With the Field of Dreams game a huge success in 2021 and a follow-up Iowa game set up for 2022, there has been talk about another similar game this coming season. Where could it be?
The Yankees/White Sox game in Dyersville, Iowa at the Field of Dreams movie site was a huge success, both for MLB and for Fox Sports, drawing some 5.9 million viewers to the live network broadcast — the most-watched regular-season baseball game on the network in 16 years. So it’s no surprise that MLB scheduled two 2022 games with the Chicago Cubs taking on the Cincinnati Reds and the Iowa Cubs hosting the Louisville Bats in a match-up of top farm teams.
But there’s also been some appetite in MLB and Fox circles about another signature event, and other cities are pitching the pair about another game down the line. We know there have been discussions about a similar signature game at Bosse Field, home of the Evansville Otters (Frontier League). Bosse Field formerly hosted Triple-A baseball as well–our Jesse Goldberg-Strassler profiled the venue here–but interest in Bosse Field comes from another notable event in its history: Historic Bosse Field was cast in A League of Their Own as the home of the Racine (WI) Belles, hosting the AAGPBL Championship Series between the Belles and the protagonist Rockford Peaches, managed by Tom Hanks’ archetypal amalgam, “Jimmy Dugan.” That film was released in 1992, and a signature event marking the 30th anniversary of a much-beloved movie sounds like part of the formula making the Field of Dreams movie a success. There’s also plenty of charm associated with Bosse Field, which opened on June 17, 1915.
Not that there aren’t plenty of other contenders to host an MLB/Fox signature event. A natural would be Birmingham’s Rickwood Field, opening in 1910 and hosting both MiLB and Negro Leagues baseball for decades. It’s the oldest pro baseball ballpark still in use, first hosting the Birmingham Barons in 1910 and the Negro National League’s Birmingham Black Barons beginning in 1924. The likes of Willie Mays, Satchel Paige and George “Mules” Suttles all played for the Black Barons. In later years Rickwood Field was host to the first integrated team in Alabama pro sports in the “new” Southern League beginning in 1964, when Barons owner Charlie O. Finley brought the likes of John “Blue Moon” Odom and Tommie Reynolds to town; later on Reggie Jackson posted great numbers for the Birmingham A’s in 1967. It was also then when the ballpark was desegrated; prior to that Blacks were limited to the right-field bleachers for Barons games. (Mark McCarter tells the story of Rickwood Field and Charlie O. Finley’s Barons in Never a Bad Game: 50-Plus Years of the Southern League. Check it out here.) We’ve already been to several editions of the Rickwood Classic, the throwback game organized by the modern Birmingham Barons (Double-A South), and it’s an experience that could easily be replicated as an MLB signature event.
Also positioning itself as hosting a future signature game: Paterson (N.J.) officials, who want to see a game at Hinchliffe Stadium. That facility is currently undergoing renovations after years of work and fundraising by local officials and enthusiasts. Hinchliffe Stadium opened in 1932 and hosted the New York Black Yankees and New York Cubans among other events, including car racing and concerts from the likes of Abbott and Costello. It‘s one of four former Negro Leagues ballparks still standing (including ballparks in Jacksonville, FL and Hamtramck, MI; renovations are underway at Hamtramck Stadium as well). A Hinchliffe Stadium game might be challenging from a physical viewpoint: while the Art Deco facility is being restored to how it looked when hosting Negro Leagues action, it’s more a football/track/multiuse high-school facility than a ballpark. But MLB tends to bring in some very talented people to design and run these signature events, so you never know.
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