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The Field of Dreams Game – Part 5: Sox Slugger Tim Anderson Lights Up The Iowa Sky

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Once White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn threw the first pitch to DJ LeMahieu in the middle of a corn field, the Field of Dreams game turned into a normal regular season game. Well, not really. Everything about the game felt like a playoff atmosphere crossed with a surreal stage show. While the crowd was festive, it was apparent that this game meant more to the partisan fans than just a normal mid-August American League game. Further, many of the heavy hitters on both teams seemed Marvel super hero huge performing on baseball stadium set.

​But I Digress… In many ways, the FOD game experience reminded me of the “Turn Back the Clock” game that occurred on July 11, 1990 during the final season of old Comiskey Park (1910-1990). That game was one of, if not the very first, retro games and helped popularize the concept across the sports world. For that game, the White Sox sold general admission tickets for only 50 cents, turned off their iconic electronic exploding scoreboard, wore retro uniforms commemorating the 1917 World Series championship team among other flashback features throughout the game and park.

Turn Back the Clock Day at old Comiskey Park was one of the first retro baseball games, with 1917-style uniforms and a stripped down scoreboard. White Sox All-Star players such as Carlton Fisk (middle) and Jack McDowell (top middle and bottom) could not stop the Milwaukee Brewers from spoiling the party.

One link exists between old Comiskey Park, Turn Back the Clock day and the Field of Dreams game and came in the form of the stadium announcer. Longtime White Sox public address announcer Gene Honda announced the lineups for the 1990 Turn Back the Clock Game using an old school megaphone. Mr. Honda performed the same duty 31 years later in Dyersville over the public address system at the FOD ballpark in Dyersville.

Unfortunately, MLB made a HUGE mistake in their tone deaf (literally and figuratively) musical choice for the Field of Dreams ballpark. Instead of inviting Hall of Fame worthy organist Nancy Faust to perform in Dyersville, they mostly opted for canned pop music. At the first Turn Back the Clock game, Ms. Faust graced the rows of green wooden seats at old Comiskey with an unplugged form of music befitting a game commemorating a 1917 team. On that day, Ms. Faust eschewed her organ and instead roamed the stands with an accordion. While MLB did choose to emulate Comiskey’s old green seats with similarly colored green plastic seats at the FOD ballpark, it failed to include another genuine living Comiskey legend at the FOD game. End of middle-aged man rant.

Left: Longtime White Sox Public Address Announcer Gene Honda used a megaphone at the 1990 Turn Back the Clock game.

Right: Legendary Organist Nancy Faust was a fixture at Comiskey Park for years and may be best known for making the song “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye” a sports anthem.

With that dad rant/walk down memory lane out of the way, it’s time to return to the absolutely amazing Field of Dreams game between the white lines. Quite simply, it was one of the best baseball games that I had ever attended. It was a seesaw affair that featured eight home runs from most of the star sluggers (there’s that number 8 again), with four for each team.

With each home run, I waited for that strange whooshing sound of the balls landing in the corn fields from the original movie. Unlike the film, attendees at the game couldn’t hear the sound of any ball landing in the corn given the loud cheers from partisans from Chicago and New York. On that note, based on fan attire and crowd noise, I estimate that the crowd was about 45% White Sox fans, 35% Yankees fans and the remaining 20% being neutral baseball fans.

The White Sox and Yankees put on an offensive show for the fans at the Field of Dreams.

During the game, I never even saw my ticketed seat. My ticket was for a bleacher seat in deep left field (where most of the Sox fans sat). Instead, I opted to stand all game on the concourse behind home plate to get better photographs and be closer to the action. I was not alone in this choice. I mingled with dozens of other ballpark geeks like myself (some in the media, but many just hardcore fans). We swapped stories about how many ballparks we visited while waiting for the perfect panoramic sunset photograph. Just like me, many of these people felt a similar urge to simply be at this unique ballpark for such special sporting event.

All of the ballpark lovers squeezed together behind home plate to capture a photograph of the purple sky behind centerfield.

During the game, I found my eyes wandering in all directions other than the playing field. From my perch high up behind home, I could see cornfield extending to the horizon in almost all directions. As the ballpark’s floodlights began to take effect, I noticed a glow from the cornfield pathway and the lights at the original Field of Dreams waaaaay down the third base line. Fans wandered over to the movie set throughout the Sox-Yanks game to play ball and soak in the experience with smaller crowds than during pregame. I had to keep reminding myself that this game was a real big league game between real major league teams all while often getting a overwhelmed by the intense waves of manure smell from rightfield (not an Aaron Judge diss I swear).

Left: The sunset over the third base grandstand was CGI movie magic perfect.

Right: During the game, one of the most captivating sights was the corn maze and original field of dreams.

Note that I have not once used the clichés “once in a lifetime” or “unique experience” in describing the Field of Dreams game. All day long, I heard fans and media members discussing that the MLB likely will repeat this game with other teams. Indeed, they revealed just days later that the Cubs and Reds would play at the Field of Dreams in August 2022. Nevertheless, we assured ourselves in a self smug way that no future games could possibly be as cool as this first one. Soon, we would learn that our self-directed boasts likely would be quite true thanks to a lean 28 year old shortstop from Alabama with a silky smooth swing.

For most of the game, the White Sox were in control. Their star players José Abreu and Eloy Jiménez, along with back-up catcher Seby Zavala each hit home runs. The Yankee’s bombers Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner nearly matched them with their own corn dingers (too cute?). In the top of the 9th Inning, with the Sox holding on to a 7-4 lead, I moved down to a newly vacated seat on the 3rd base side in an attempt to capture a photo of the final out if the Sox bullpen could hold its three run lead.

The sunset was a stunning backdrop for the Sox-Yanks game.

Left: Reliever Craig Kimbrel, recently acquired from the Cubs, stared down a Yankees hitter.

Right: Sox Leftfielder Eloy Jiménez tosses a ball to the fans.

Given the three-run cushion the Sox enjoyed, I had the luxury to marvel at a two out, two run Ruthian bomb by Aaron Judge to the rightfield corn. That said, I did start to squirm a bit in my seat with the lead shrinking to one run. The squirm turned into a sulk when White Sox star closer, Australian born Liam Hendriks, soon after threw a HUGE turd into the punch bowl. That turd came in the form of a 88 (!) mph pitch down the middle of the plate to Paul Bunyan in cleats (aka Giancarlo Stanton, who was sporting a flashback pencil-thin mustache that may be been more hipster than retro).

The Yankees’ designated hitter smacked the first pitch so damn hard that I didn’t even bother watching where it landed. I later learned that it barely cleared the fence and was nearly caught (That would have been a cool Hollywood ending too). In the blink of an eye, the White Sox three run lead morphed into a one run deficit. I feared that this game would be the “Turn Back the Clock Day” game all over again. On that fateful day in 1990, the White Sox blew a 9-3 lead and ultimately lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 12-9. Perhaps the old timey White Sox WWI era uniforms really were cursed by Shoeless Joe?!?!

Left: Yankee Aaron Judge launched his 2nd home run into the rightfield corn in the top of the 9th, narrowing the deficit to one run.

Right: Despite giving up 2 run, Liam Hendriks stayed in the game to give up the go-ahead homer to Giancarlo Stanton.

Video of Aaron Judge’s two run homer to right in the 9th.

My video of the “final out” turned into a video of the first part of the go ahead home run by Yankee Giancarlo Stanton. My shock made me instinctively stop recording.

I was shell-shocked. To change the mojo, I quickly moved seats to another section before the bottom of the ninth in an effort to find a “rally seat”. Despite being a coldly rational person in most of my life, I am deeply superstitious when it comes to sports. This time, my rally move worked. With all of the Yankees fans obnoxiously (yeah, I went there my New York friends) crowing about their comeback, I settled into my new good luck seat about 20 rows above the Sox dugout. Some fans alredy had departed to beat the Iowa traffic.

My new “rally seat” right near the netting felt like being a cooped up chicken in the field.

Some guy named Danny Mendick (batting .195) intensified my stomach pit by weakly grounding out to first to lead of the Sox last at bats. Catcher Seby Zavala worked the count full and drew a walk. For a moment, I allowed myself to dream of a game winning homer, but then mentally pinched myself when I remembered which team on the field was mine.

Sure, I knew the next batter Tim Anderson had a flair for the dramatic, I have not had too many Sox moments in my life that worked out as dreamed. I distracted myself by readying my iPhone for video in my left hand and my Sony a6500 camera in my right hand…just in case. Before I even got settled, the White Sox star hitter blasted the first pitch he saw for an opposite field screaming line drive that landed in the maize beyond the rightfield fence. It would later be immortalized in the White Sox team store at new Comiskey Park in t-shirt fashion as “The Stalkoff”.

Tim Anderson’s walk off home run (aka the “Stalk Off”) delivered a moment that White Sox fans will remember forever. It was a unscripted moment straight out of Hollywood.

Words cannot describe how exciting the moment was, but the video below may do that job for me. Despite the FOD game being a single game of a one hundred sixty-two game regular season, it felt like so much more. In all my life as a Sox fan, it might have been the most shockingly thrilling moment and, on a huge stage, to boot. Despite recent Covid and variant fears, random Sox fans started hugging and high fiving each other with reckless abandon.

While my photos and video of the moment may be a bit dodgy, I will remember Tim Anderson’s home run and amazing celebration vividly in my mind forever. While the White Sox traditional victory song (the Blues Brother’s version of “Sweet Home Chicago”) blasted from the ballpark’s speakers and fireworks exploded from the centerfield batter’s eye into the Iowa night, I reveled in the moment. Sure, one regular season win did not erase the twenty-four World Series title edge the Yankees accrued since the Black Sox scandal, but it felt really satisfying tuning into Chicago sports radio the next morning while driving through Iowa corn fields.

Left: White Sox teammates greet Tim Anderson following his game winning homer.

Right: Tim Anderson’s joyous celebration might have been as memorable as the home run.

Shaky video of Tim Anderson’s game winning home run.

Left: Eloy Jiménez poses and points towards the scoreboard.

Right: Field of Dreams hero Tim Anderson with a MLB Network reporter following his “Stalkoff” home run.

When I finally settled in at my hotel and turned on SportsCenter, I saw an amazing stat that not even Hollywood could concoct with a straight face. That night’s hero, Tim Anderson, won the game on the 19th ever walk off home run against the Yankees in their 121 years of playing each other. The first White Sox walk off home run against the Yankees was hit by none other than SHOELESS JOE JACKSON!!!!

All text and photographs (except as otherwise noted) Copyright Ken Smoller 2023 (aka Stadium Vagabond).

For more stadium, travel and sports photos, follow the Stadium Vagabond instagram page.


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