Cubs’ Nick Madrigal relishes Field of Dreams after missed chance

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DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Whether or not Nick Madrigal was traded last summer, he couldn’t have played in the inaugural Field of Dreams Game after undergoing season-ending hamstring surgery.

But the White Sox traded him to the Cubs, and for the last year Madrigal has been budding with anticipation.

“All year long, I was looking forward to this game,” Madrigal said. “I was fortunate enough to see the Cubs were going there [this] year. 

“I was bummed not to make it last year. It was something I was looking forward to.”

Madrigal got his chance Thursday in the second edition of MLB’s game in an Iowa cornfield and didn’t disappoint. He went 3-for-5 out of the leadoff spot while adding an RBI and stolen base.

So, how did the day overall compare to his expectations?

“It was everything I imagined it to be and more from start to finish,” Madrigal said after the Cubs’ 4-2 win. “Major League Baseball did a great job — just the whole setup, the game, the stadium was unbelievable. 

“I wasn’t too sure what the actual field was going to be [like], but it was incredible to have the fans feel like they’re right on top of you. Overall, it was just a great day.”

The Cubs soaked in the “magic” of the Field of Dreams campus in the hours before Thursday’s game.

 

After all the anticipation, they quickly rewarded their fans in the sold-out crowd of 7,823, scoring three times in the first inning on RBI hits from Seiya Suzuki, Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ.

“Felt kind of like a college atmosphere,” Hoerner said. “Definitely not normal. I could visibly see a horse from shortstop pretty easily.”

A lot of the visuals, other than horses and a picturesque night sky, were of cornfields located behind the outfield fence.

“It was really cool to see guys out there who just kept getting distracted with either looking out at the cornfield or down the left field line,” manager David Ross said.

Cubs starter Drew Smyly, while throwing a dominant outing, made sure to take in his surroundings.

“I caught myself in between every inning when I wasn’t pitching, just staring out into the cornfields, just looking over to the left field wall,” Smyly said. “It’s just something I’ve never seen before.

“Just think about sitting here in the major-league dugout trying to pitch a game for the Cubs and all I’m looking at is endless cornfields.”

Whether Smyly has ivy-covered walls or corn behind him seems to not make a difference. He threw 6 2/3 shutout innings at Wrigley Field his last start.

The day had extra meaning for Smyly; it was his daughter Parker’s fifth birthday. She celebrated the big day at the ballpark in Iowa.

“I hope she can remember it the older she gets,” Smyly said. “I know I will, and my wife.

“All she knows is going to big stadiums in these big cities, so she drove out here to the cornfields and gets to watch me play baseball.

“It’s just pretty cool and it’s neat. It’s something that I know I’ll remember the rest of my life.”

They didn’t play “Go Cubs Go” after this victory, but a special feeling permeated the stadium regardless.

“The spirit was amazing,” Ross said. “Really cool event. Super proud to be able to come here represent the Cubs and have that experience in my memory bank.”

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