(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire)
As the 38-year-old watched the iconic movie of the same title in preparation for the game, he posted a thread on Twitter detailing his love for the film. Votto explained it was a favorite of his growing up, and a specific scene from the movie resonates with the veteran.
In the flick, Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, calls out to his father, John (played by Dwier Brown), for a game of catch after he constructed a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield. It’s a moment that pulls at the heartstrings of baseball fans and movie watchers alike.
The scene is dear to Votto because as a child he used to play catch with his father, Joseph. Some three decades later, Votto said he realized how impactful those moments were to him.
“From 8 or 9 years old, my father and I would play catch together … It was the most important thing we did together. It strengthened our bond,” Votto tweeted.
Joseph Votto died in August 2008 at age 52. Votto went on the then-called disabled list on May 30, 2009, for stress-related issues. He suffered anxiety attacks from lingering grief after his father’s death. After time away from the team, he was activated from the DL on June 23, 2009.
Votto said he understands the emotional magnitude of this occasion for him personally and professionally.
“Getting the opportunity to play a game at the mythical field that sowed the seeds of hope for a Major League Baseball career is a significant moment for me. Couple that with the father/son connection, and this game is an exceptional moment in my life,” Votto said in a tweet.
Thursday’s contest will be the second installment of MLB’s Field of Dreams game, inspired by the 1989 sports drama. It will take place in Dyersville, Iowa, adjacent to where the movie was filmed. This year’s competition also features special uniforms that pay tribute to the Reds’ 1919 World Series win over the Chicago White Sox and the Cubs’ 1929 National League pennant-winning season.
The inaugural event featured a classic between the New York Yankees and the White Sox, in which Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson hit a walk-off home run into the cornfield in the ninth inning to give his team a 9-8 victory.