DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Nick Lodolo was one of the first Cincinnati Reds players to walk onto the field with his 1919-inspired uniform at the Field of Dreams on Thursday.
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.
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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.
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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.”
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.
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.”