DYERSVILLE, Ia. — Aaron Judge scanned the visiting Kansas City locker room Wednesday afternoon and didn’t recognize the unusually quiet scene. The typical hustle and bustle of a road series ending — with an evening flight looming — wasn’t there.
“Usually we’re packing everything up and trying to rush, catch a flight and get to the next city,” the New York Yankees slugger said during Thursday’s pregame press conference. “But it was pretty calm because we had one more night (to stay) in KC.”
In order to make Thursday’s Field of Dreams game work, both the Yankees and White Sox had to adjust to a quirky traveling itinerary. After finishing the week’s three-game series at Kauffman Stadium with a midweek day game, the Yankees stayed in Kansas City Wednesday night and flew over to Dubuque Thursday morning. New York will then fly out to Chicago after the game and resume the series Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
MLB teams often land at their next road stop the same day the series begins — but touch down usually comes in the early-morning hours before an evening first pitch. Not here. The Yankees left their Kansas City hotel around 10:30 a.m. entered Dubuque Regional Airport around noon (CT) and arrived at the Field of Dreams complex roughly 90 minutes after that. Quite the jaunt before a 6:15 p.m. (CT) first pitch.
New York, though, hardly minded the travel adjustment even as it plays 17 games in 17 days. Call it a small price to pay to be part of such a grand scene.
“Everyone is excited to be here,” Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu said. “Whatever it takes to play a game here.”
That energy was evident upon arrival.
Whether it was weaving through the corn, snapping selfies amid the Midwestern backdrop, venturing over to the movie site or simply soaking in the sun, every Yankee seemed to squeeze the most out of this one-of-a-kind road trip.
“First of all, I know guys are by and large excited about the experience,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Overall, we really haven’t been inconvenienced that much. We got back to the hotel (Wednesday) night in Kansas City — guys got to eat and get a good night sleep. We left the hotel this morning at 10:30. The airport was 10 minutes away from the hotel. Short flight and bus ride here. It wasn’t a grueling travel situation.”
Boone did notice one difference on the flight over. Departing air travel is normally reserved for discussing what just unfolded in the series prior — Boone and his coaches breaking down the recent slate before looking ahead. Only, these in-flight conversations flipped forward sooner than most.
“It was a little weird being on the plane this morning when you have a game (later that day),” Boone said. “You get on the plane — and we’re with the coaches — that’s always after a win or a loss and it’s on to the next city. Today it was like, ‘We have a game tonight.’ So that was a little bit different.”
Avoiding such a scenario would’ve required the Yankees to find lodging in Dyersville or possibly Dubuque, something many Iowans chuckled at when envisioning. The 6-foot-7 Judge, 6-foot-6 Giancarlo Stanton — or any of the Yankees’ three pitchers over 6-foot-4 — squeezing into a Super 8 bed would make for a comical scene.
That won’t be happening, but it’s clear these Yankees weren’t bothered by the shakeup.
“A couple guys joked, wishing we could stay here for a couple more nights just because it’s so peaceful,” Judge said. “Getting a chance to get out of the city and just be in the country and see all this corn we’ve got out here. There’s quite a bit of it.
“I might need to make another visit back out here.”
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.