WTOP cousin Jake Fraley plays in MLB’s ‘Field of Dreams’ game Thursday night

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Field of Dreams' Game with Jake Fraley (Part 1)

Last summer, Kevin Costner magically returned to the cornfield baseball diamond that he made famous in his classic movie “Field of Dreams” (1989). On Thursday night, Major League Baseball hosts its second annual “Field of Dreams Game” in Dyersville, Iowa.

The Chicago Cubs will face the Cincinnati Reds, whose outfielder Jake Fraley just happens to be my cousin. He may not be in the starting lineup, but he’s soaking it all in.

“It’s obviously a unique opportunity … once-in-a-lifetime,” Jake told WTOP. “With the rounds they’re going to be doing around the league … the odds of being able to do it again are very slim. … It’s still a baseball game that we’re trying to go out and win, but obviously the atmosphere and some of the external things are going to be a little different.”

Born in Frederick, Maryland, in 1995, Jake grew up in Delaware — and as a toddler swung a mighty Wiffle-Ball bat at Fraley family reunions in Kemptown and Damascus, Maryland. His parents recognized early on that their son had an unrivaled passion for the game.

“I would pull into the driveway every single day and I wasn’t allowed to eat dinner — Jake was standing there with a bat and a bucket of balls and he said, ‘We have to go hit,'” his father Marvin Fraley said. “(My wife) Traci would bring me out food while I was sitting on a bucket, because we had to hit 200 to 500 balls into that net every single day.”

Growing up a Baltimore Orioles fan, Jake wore No. 8 like Cal Ripken Jr., which was fitting when he was invited to a little-league tryout at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland.

“There’s 30 or 40 kids and Billy Ripken is throwing (batting practice),” Marvin said. “Jake gets up and he’s just tattooing balls off the right field fence, center-field fence, left field fence … the coach grabs me and goes, ‘Billy Ripken wants to talk to you’ … his exact quote was, ‘I’ve never seen a 12-year-old kid with a sweeter swing ever.'”

Upon graduating from Caravel Academy, Jake played Division I college ball at powerhouse Louisiana State University, then was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016.

He was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2018, before making his big-league debut in 2019. In 2021, he hit his first career home run against the L.A. Angels. Later, he robbed a potential walk-off home run with a leaping catch and double-play against the Detroit Tigers.

After being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2022, Jake battled injuries before making his triumphant return last month against the Orioles, going 3-for-4 with a home run on July 30. D.C. folks can watch him play against the Washington Nationals from Aug. 26 to Aug. 28.

First, however, he’ll play at the site of his parents’ favorite movie, “Field of Dreams.”

“On the surface it’s a baseball movie, but it’s so much more about dreams, making amends with people you’ve had hardships with,” his mother Traci Fraley said. “We all want to meet our baseball heroes … Ray Kinsella getting to meet his father and make amends with him because he wasn’t pleased with the way that he treated his dad when he was younger.”

“The nostalgia of somebody who truly loves the game, and then to see Shoeless Joe Jackson on the field, one of the greatest baseball players ever to put on a uniform (played by the late Ray Liotta) … it’s just magical. The movie’s magical,” Marvin said.

In 2016, Costner told WTOP that “Field of Dreams” is this generation’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), so just as Costner’s character says, “Hey, Dad? Wanna have a catch?” at the end of the film, generations of fans continue to say, “Hey, Dad? Wanna watch a movie?”

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched that movie,” Jake said.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Field of Dreams' Game with Jake Fraley (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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