Major League Baseball's Field of Dreams Game is set for Thursday night. The inspiration comes from the 1989 movie with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones, where a man built a baseball field in a cornfield. An 8,000-seat ballpark has been built adjacent to the actual site of the movie in Dyersville, Iowa and the Yankees and White Sox will do battle.
This appears to be the first regular season MLB game played in homage to a movie, but it continues in the recent tradition of Major League Baseball staging special games in order to reach audiences in a unique way. In recent years, we've seen games outside of traditional home markets in London; Tokyo; Monterrey, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; at a military base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home of the Little League World Series.
Naturally, this leads us to wonder what could be next? Here are five ideas (listed in no particular order).
1. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and only has a population of 10.74 million. And yet, it is one of the best baseball-producing countries in the world. In Major League Baseball, only the United States produces more major-league players and that's operating with a population of well over 300 million.
It wouldn't be difficult to find two teams with Dominican-heavy rosters to send there for a series. MLB has played spring training games in the D.R. before, and the Twins and Tigers met in Santo Domingo in March 2020. But let's make the regular season affair a weekend series, culminating with the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. Anyone who has ever watched any international baseball knows just how zealous and festive the Dominican fans are, too. It's amazing entertainment just with the spectators alone.
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2. RBI program games
MLB has a program called Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) that is now an international campaign in more than 200 cities around the globe dedicated to "increasing participation and interest in baseball and softball among underserved youth."
If we're looking to build audiences for the future in addition to cultivating players, this is an avenue to take multiple times per season.
The idea is to use any host city of an RBI program and find a suitable ballpark near said program. It could even simply be the MLB ballpark, just with a theme for the game or series. Teams could target participants in the RBI program and give them and their families free admission. Make the entire event all about the program and the kids who take part in it. We've seen something similar with the Little League World Series, but this extends even further to kids who love baseball and might not otherwise have the opportunity to see Major League Baseball in person.
This could be done all over the country with one series a year in so many cities and would do a ton of good in outreach to potentially untapped markets of fans.
Of course, we'd have to convince the owners to see the greater good of allowing fans in the game for free, and that's a tall order. We can dream, though, right?
Though the Dominican Republic boasts the most MLB players of any country outside the U.S., there are other Caribbean islands that are gorgeous with the opportunity for a festive baseball atmosphere. If we go way south, almost to Venezuela, we hit two islands that have been producing some damn good baseball players for a bit.
Chadwick Tromp and Xander Bogaerts are from Aruba. Remember Sidney Ponson? He came from there, too. It's a breathtakingly beautiful island, I can attest. No player would complain about a three-game series there.
Something on one of these islands, or both, would be lots of fun and help continue to develop the interest in the game in the area.
4. Hall of Fame Game
From 1940-2007, Major League Baseball held the Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, New York around the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony every summer. But it was an exhibition game. As long as we're doing these themed games, let's bring it back but make the game count. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is held on Sunday afternoon, so the game can follow on Sunday Night Baseball. The stadium is cozy and seats 9,791.
Possibly fun twist: It's a tiny field. It's only 296 feet down the left-field line, 336 to the left-center gap, 390 to center, 350 to right center and 312 to right. Like I said, it's cozy!
5. 'The Sandlot' game
C'mon, I had to grab another movie after we discussed Field of Dreams. My love for The Sandlot isn't a secret. Could we possibly build an 8,000-seat stadium that somehow resembles the sandlot diamond from the movie, with the fence in left field mirroring the one from the movie? Of course! Let's even throw a treehouse out there overlooking a lot with a large dog hanging out in it. Have some fun with it. This game is supposed to be fun, after all.
What Field of Dreams game jerseys will be worn
If you're a Yankees or White Sox fan, you need Field of Dreams gear! Shop the new Field of Dreams collection, featuring jerseys, shirts, hats, and matchup gear in navy, white, and heathered gray. Click here to shop.
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