After Iowa, MLB must keep visiting baseball-less places

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

There was a lot that was cool about what Major League Baseball did in Iowa.

For me, the coolest thing about it — apart from a wildly entertaining baseball game — is that Major League Baseball did something in Iowa.

I like the movie "Field of Dreams," but I don't love, love, love it. I never had the desire to visit the movie site prior to the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees squaring off there this past Thursday.

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But what I do like is seeing other parts of the country, other parts of the world. And to bring big-time baseball to a place without a major league team or a pro team of any kind, while simultaneously making it something very much themed to that place, was special.

For me, the spectacle was not "oh, look, they're playing in a cornfield like in that movie," it was "oh, look, they're playing in a cornfield in Iowa because that's what's in Iowa."

A little reductive in describing the Hawkeye State? Perhaps. But in a style similar to how host nations get to show off during the Olympics, I felt like the Field of Dreams game allowed Iowa to show off, even if on a much smaller scale, with home-run balls flying into a sea of the state's chief export.


It sounds like Major League Baseball will lean into the success it had Thursday night and keep the Iowa thing going. Commissioner Rob Manfred said there will be another Field of Dreams game next summer, and it's easy to see this becoming an annual thing, playing up the movie tie in and providing a cool backdrop you won't see at big league ballparks.

But what if they went a different route?

What if next year, they built a temporary stadium in the red rock desert and brought Major League Baseball to Utah?

What if the year after next, they built a temporary stadium on an idyllic beach and brought Major League Baseball to Maui?

What if the year after that, they built a temporary stadium in a city park full of jazz history and Spanish moss and brought Major League Baseball to New Orleans?

If baseball is truly America's national pastime, how about highlighting the places in this country that baseball fans don't get to see, while also bringing the game to fans who don't get to see it?

Baseball could set up shop in a mountain town in Vermont, on a neon-lit street in Las Vegas, under the presidents at Mount Rushmore. It could be an annual event that matches the novelty of hockey's Winter Classic with some good old fashioned barnstorming.

Multiple players Thursday said they would have liked to see the Field of Dreams game last more than one night, a weekend series at the unique location that would've been more appropriate to the way baseball is played. Though certainly the "one night only" aspect probably made the TV a little more must-see.

Regardless of it lasting one day or three, though, the achievements of the Field of Dreams game might not be entirely tied to nostalgia for one movie, no matter how big a deal everyone made of movie star Kevin Costner's pregame appearance. The game's biggest star, walk-off hero Tim Anderson, still hadn't seen the movie as of Thursday night. But he said that he provided a memory of his own.

Baseball can never have enough of those.

There's always talk of baseball expanding its fan base. And while kids across the country might not be as jazzed by geography as I am, there's no doubt that bringing your product to the people you're trying to sell it to can't hurt.

Maybe this traveling-roadshow idea is just as susceptible to staleness as an annual Iowa-based game would be.

Or maybe it's not outrageous to suggest the national pastime could benefit from going nationwide.

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