Playing at the ballpark featured in the film Field of Dreams is a “dream” many sport fanatics have held their entire lives, but for Australia’s Liam Hendriks, it’s reality.
Hendriks, a closer for the Chicago White Sox in Major League Baseball, will take part in the league’s inaugural game in Iowa when the White Sox take on the New York Yankees.
For the Aussie, he’s just relishing the chance to be a part of baseball history.
“It’s not every day you get a chance to be the first-ever Major League game in a state,” Hendriks told the Des Moines Register.
“So that’s kind of cool. Hopefully I don’t suck and give up the first homer in Iowa.”
Hendriks unfortunately won’t be playing at the exact same ballpark as the one featured in the film.
But his game against the Yankees will take place at a specially constructed park just a stone’s throw away from the original field featured in the Hollywood classic that stars Kevin Costner.
The MLB’s debut in Iowa was planned for 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic shelved those plans momentarily.
The Yankees and White Sox will jet in to Iowa on Friday (AEST), before travelling to the movie site for their game the same night.
It’s a whirlwind two days for both teams, but for Hendriks, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Some of the other guys were concerned about the travel and stuff like this, but a lot of the guys were just excited because it’s something that breaks up the monotony of the day-to-day,” Hendriks said.
“You get a chance to go to a place where you may not visit.”
The 32-year-old, who goes by the nickname Slydah, thanks to former teammate Robert Osuna, who was fascinated with how the Aussie pronounced the word “slider”, made his MLB debut in 2011 for the Minnesota Twins.
Hendriks spent two years with the Twins before subsequent spells with the Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics.
The Perth native only linked up with the White Sox in January this year, and it proved to be an excellent career move – he was even picked to play in the 2021 All-Star game, his second appearance in the novelty match, having made the cut in 2019.
This isn’t the first time the MLB has moved a series from its regular home and away trail.
The Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins took part in a game at a military base in North Carolina, with players allowed to mingle with those in the armed forces.
The MLB even opened the 2014 season on Australian shores, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks playing at the SCG.
Hendriks believes the exposure and fun surrounding these special events can only help to grow the game across the world.
“I love these series,” Hendriks said.
“I think they just bring so much to the game and they’re bringing global awareness to it. I guarantee you this is going to be reaching different countries all over the world and some people out there are now going to be looking into baseball and seeing how they can do to get into it.”