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By Ben Verlander
FOX Sports MLB Analyst
DYERSVILLE, Iowa — From the day I was born, I was around the game of baseball.
My brother, Justin, is 9 years older than I am, so I was basically born at a baseball field. I was then fortunate enough to play the game for 27 years of my life.
I owe a lot of that to my dad.
Ben Verlander’s love of baseball was instilled in him by his father, Richard.
As I’m here in Iowa, writing this quite literally from the “Field of Dreams” movie site, I can’t help but think about my dad. This place is magical, it’s beautiful, and my baseball journey has led me here, to this tiny slice of heaven.
I go back and think about all the times my dad and I would play catch in the front yard. I think about all the times that didn’t mean much in the moment, but now they mean everything.
Ben Verlander relives his Field of Dreams experience
Ben Verlander tells the story of his amazing experience in Iowa for the first MLB Field of Dreams Game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox in 2021.
Watch the 2022 Field of Dreams Game between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds at 7:15 p.m. ET Thursday on FOX and the FOX Sports app.
Before almost every game in my life, until I left to play college ball, my dad and I would go out in the yard and hit a bucket full of Wiffle balls in preparation for that day’s game.
I played thousands of games before college, and before every single one, my dad and I would head out into the yard to practice. Those are memories I’ll have forever.
The Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, Iowa, reminds us of the bonds formed by the game of baseball.
Did that practice help me become a professional baseball player? Honestly, probably not. But it did instill in me my work ethic. The work ethic of, rain or shine, hot or cold, when it’s time to work, you get up, and you get it done.
And what that time together absolutely did was build forever the bond that my dad and I share around the game of baseball, the game in which my dad was often the coach of my team.
On countless weekends in my life, my family would head to the local high school field, and my dad would throw batting practice to my brother and me. I remember it like it was yesterday. Dad throwing balls behind us … Justin and I getting angry … Mom trotting around in the outfield picking up the baseballs we were actually able to hit.
It was perfect. It was heaven.
Angels’ Shohei Ohtani joins Babe Ruth in exclusive club
Ben Verlander breaks down Shohei Ohtani’s joining the legendary Babe Ruth as the only players in MLB history with 10 wins and 10 home runs in a season.
Watch “Flippin’ Bats with Ben Verlander” on YouTube, or subscribe on podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts.
Much like the Field of Dreams. This place is a reminder of that family bond. There’s a scene in the movie in which Ray Kinsella plays catch with his late father, and without fail, I break down in tears every time. It’s a powerful scene, a powerful moment, and that movie moment is very real for so many people.
The Cubs and Reds will light up the Field of Dreams scoreboard Thursday night (7:15 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).
Baseball is a beautiful sport. Two teams, nine innings, 27 outs. A pitcher with his best stuff throwing to a batter trying to do some damage — with a much more intricate game within the game. And what makes it even more beautiful is the bonds formed along the way.
Baseball is also a game with so much history, and the Field of Dreams is so nostalgic; it makes you think about the past and the memories you’ve created. For me, I think back on the first Major League Baseball game I ever got to watch, side-by-side with my family at Busch Stadium.
Now I sit here in Iowa, and my mind goes back to every step of the journey that has led me here. Every step of the journey, I’m reminded of my dad.
Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the “Flippin’ Bats” podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @BenVerlander.
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