Any day Brad Groleau steps on a baseball field is a good day.
The former St. Bede standout and two-time BCR Player of the Year found his true “Field of Dreams” on Aug. 9.
As trainer of the Quad City River Bandits, the High A team for the Kansas City Royals, he got to take part in the first Minor League baseball game played at the “Field of Dreams” site made famous by the 1989 movie. The River Bandits-Cedar Rapids Kernels game was a prelude to this year’s MLB “Field of Dreams” game between the Cubs and Reds two nights later.
Groleau, 27, has seen the movie multiple times, but this was his first trip to the “Field of Dream” site, and it lived up to all his expectations and then some.
“It was unbelievable to say the least. As Kevin Costner said last year, it really is perfect,” Groleau said. “The way MLB put everything together, how they have the [MLB] field right next to the movie field, just the whole experience from beginning to end, you just can’t draw it up any better.
“We had perfect weather, beautiful skies and sunny and 80 degrees. It was a great game, and I just really enjoyed the whole experience. As Fergie Jenkins said on the [Cubs-Reds] FOX broadcast, you just had to experience in person, and I was very fortunate to do that.”
The day’s experience all started with the bus ride ride from the Quad Cities through the Iowa country side, ending with a police escort into Dyersville.
“The whole drive from Davenport to the actual field through the corn fields, you truly are in the middle of nowhere at Dyersville there. Once you pull up at the field, you’re just in awe seeing the development of the brand new field and how cool it is to see it,” Groleau said.
“My parents [Ron and Kim] were there, so I was able to walk around with them before the day started, which was nice.”
The River Bandits had about 45 minutes to walk around and “just kind of take it all in and take a lot of pictures,” Groleau said.
“Then at 2:15, we had our team photo. And then after that, that’s when our pitchers started throwing, had batting practice, had pregame meal and before you know, it’s game time,” he said.
“You see the iconic bleachers, the house, the actual field, not much has changed at all from the movie in 1989,” he said. “I think the really cool part of the end of the movie, you see the bleachers where Moonlight Graham turns into a doctor where that whole scene was and where they walked from those bleachers to the field where Ray Kinsella played catch with his dad.
“Everything is in the same exact spot from the movie (33) years ago, so that was really cool.”
Groleau, a 2013 St. Bede graduate, said all the River Bandits players enjoyed their experience.
“They were all taking pictures on their phones. Everybody was just saying how cool it was. They were saying how they had the chills because they had seen the movie,” he said.
“Just walking out on the field the condition was immaculate. I keep going back to perfect, because it was. The corn and everything is just truly green. That initial walk from the clubhouse to get to the dugout and see the field, that first reaction was amazing.”
Keeping up with the theme of the week, the Kernels and River Bandits took a step back in time. The Kernels became the Cedar Rapids Bunnies and the River Bandits became the Davenport Blue Sox, each decked out in vintage throwback uniforms.
The River Bandits made it a memorable night on the field by winning 7-2.
“We had a great performance from our starting pitcher, Chandler Champlain. He went 6 1/3 innings. Juan Carlos Negret and Peyton Wilson both hit homers for us,” Groleau said. “It was an all around offensive, pitching and defensive game for us. To be able to get the win was that much more special.”
This is Groleau’s first year with the River Bandits. He started with the Royals as intern in 2017 and 2018 with their Triple A Storm Chasers team in Omaha. He started full time in 2019 with the Burlington Royals in Rookie Ball affiliate.
There were no games in 2020 because of COVID-19, and Groleau returned to work in the ACL Summer League in Arizona for the Royals in 2021 before reporting to the River Bandits this year.
It’s the next best thing other than playing ball for Groleau.
“I’m very blessed. Thankful every day I have this job that keeps me in baseball,” he said. “Just to form relationships with our players and help them in any way that I can is the most rewarding part of my job. I show up to the yard every day, and I’m just very thankful and I really enjoy it.”
With a new schedule implemented last season throughout Minor League Baseball, the River Bandits play games at night Tuesday through Saturday with day games Sunday, playing six straight games with the same opponent, some all at the same site or a home and away.
On a typical game day, Groleau makes himself available for the players when they start showing up about 1 p.m. for any rehab or pregame treatment. Following team workouts, the pitchers daily throwing programs, batting practice and the pregame meal, Groleau may have more treatments before the first pitch.
He is indeed living out his “Field of Dreams.”
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at email@example.com.
Source: The Daily Chronicle