The rookie left-hander had one of the tougher tasks. All players wanted to savor the experience, taking photos of the cornfield surrounding the outfield, and he had to balance that excitement with preparing for his start against the Chicago Cubs.
From the bullpen, Lodolo couldn't see Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr. kickstart the Field of Dreams festivities, reprising the ending of the 1989 film by having a catch before players walked out of the cornfield. About 25 minutes after all the pregame events started, Lodolo gave up three consecutive run-scoring hits in the top of the first inning of a 4-2 loss.
"I’ve never experienced anything like this," Joey Votto said. "Between the lights, between the stands, with the backdrop, the way you could hear your teammates or hear the people in the stands, it felt a lot like a minor league game, which has a real charm to it. It was done with hundreds of media credentials and this makeshift little city behind the scenes. It was fun walking through the tunnels, crossing paths with a fan, a special guest today, a Hall of Famer, a player from the other team. It felt very intimate."
The game was the centerpiece to the Field of Dreams production, of course, but the focus of the evening was a nod to the past. It’s what the film was about and why so many people wanted to be a part of the sold-out crowd of 7,823 in rural Iowa.
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Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin and Marty Brennaman make trip to Field of Dreams
Reds Hall of Famers Barry Larkin and Johnny Bench were a part of the pregame festivities, walking out of the cornfield with the teams. Bench caught the ceremonial first pitch from Cubs great Fergie Jenkins. In the crowd sat dozens of former Major Leaguers, a U.S. Senator and Hall of Famer broadcaster Marty Brennaman.
Before the first pitch, fans held up placards that read the famous quote from the film: Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.
"There's no way you can anything from the day we had here," Reds Manager David Bell said. "It was a great experience. I heard so many people throughout our clubhouse say it's something they'll remember for the rest of their life. Just everything about it, it's difficult to put into words what it meant. It seemed like the fans enjoyed it. I hope everyone enjoyed it from home, I know we did playing in it."
First inning gets away from Reds rookie pitcher Nick Lodolo
The first inning snowballed on the 24-year-old Lodolo when he hit Patrick Wisdom’s foot with a curveball on a 0-2 pitch with two outs. Seiya Suzuki lined an RBI double into center field. Nico Horner followed with an RBI single to left field. Ian Happ capped the three-run rally with an RBI double to center.
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'JUST FEEL LIKE A KID': Behind the scenes with Reds at Field of Dreams game
Lodolo worked ahead in counts and filled the strike zone, but he allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks in 4⅔ innings while striking out six.
“It’s frustrating, no doubt about it," Lodolo said. "I look back at it and what I could have done. Obviously, would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. I was that close to continuing to pitch deeper into the game and keeping us in the ballgame right from the jump. It’s definitely frustrating. When I look back, I realize that I’m that close."
The Reds hit 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.
Matt Reynolds, who entered in the fourth inning after Jonathan India left the game with a lower left leg contusion stemming from a hit by pitch in the first inning, ended the home team’s shutout with a two-run double into the right-center gap in the seventh inning.
"It was a special moment for me in my career," Reynolds said. "The flyover was crazy. Got goosebumps listening to the jets fly over. Walking through the cornfield before the game gave me goosebumps as well. It was, all around, just a great experience."
Reds coaches reminded players before the game to recognize they were playing a Major League game in the middle of a cornfield. Take away the pomp and production and “this is as pure of baseball as you’re going to get,” said assistant pitching coach Eric Jagers, an Iowa native.
Will there be a Field of Dreams game in 2023? No
There won’t be a Field of Dreams game in 2023 because of construction, according to Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, who is the chief operating officer of the field’s ownership group. Multiple players said that added to the night’s significance. Who knows how many Major League players will ever experience this again?
“Our team, we’ve been through a lot,” Bell said before the game. “The playoff picture has eluded us. But it’s almost a reward to be able to play as a team in a bigger than normal game in the middle of the season. I’m happier for our players to get to do that.”
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Field of Dreams game 2022: Chicago Cubs defeat Cincinnati Reds