Field of Dreams: Where Families, Baseball Bond
What was I thinking? No matter how many times I watch “Field of Dreams,” I can’t get through the last 10 minutes without tearing up, even before Ray Kinsella and his dad have a catch.
Yet here I was, planning a trip with my two grown sons to visit the farm in Dyersville, Iowa, that served as the movie site and have a catch with them on the same field.
I anticipated the trip could bring on more water works, which would in turn embarrass my sons -- Cody, 27, and Casey, 24. But we forged ahead with our plans, which also included a four-hour drive to Minneapolis to see the Twins play the Oakland A’s the following day. The trip would accomplish an item on my bucket list while also drawing each of us one step closer to our goal of visiting every MLB stadium.
“Field of Dreams” came out in 1989, before my sons were born, but they both had watched the DVD multiple times. We brought it along in 2006 when we took a baseball trip while my wife, Sonya, was on a mission trip to Mexico. That 10-day adventure included stops for games in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago and Milwaukee. Going through Kentucky on our way back to Atlanta, we even stopped to tour the Louisville Slugger Museum, where I bought them personalized bats.
Both guys are now out of college and in the working world, and Cody is married, so finding dates that work for all of us can be tricky. But we settled on a long weekend in July. We flew into Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the morning, rented a car and Cody drove to Dyersville, about an hour away. After a nice lunch at the Dyersville Family Restaurant, we followed the signs and headed outside of town to the movie site.
Access to the field is free, but tours of the home (the same one used in the movie, the former home of the people who owned the property) are $20 for adults, $12 for children. The home tour, conducted by a guide in a 1919 White Sox uniform (not Shoeless Joe Jackson or Ray Liotta, who played him in the movie), provided a chance to learn some interesting tidbits about the movie. We heard that for continuity’s sake, the actors either stood on steps or in trenches that had been dug so the corn would always appear the same height throughout the shooting schedule.
We had some time before our tour, so we decided to have a catch first -- after a few photos, both in and out of the corn. Each of us brought our baseball glove; I had to knock the cobwebs off mine before sticking it in my suitcase.
Arthritis in my shoulder has made throwing overhand painful, so I mostly threw sidearm. Cody and Casey know I don’t have the arm strength I used to, so they stood fairly close. I then talked them into a little infield practice. I played first so I could underhand them some grounders with some zip and a few popups. Miracle of miracles, I didn’t cry at all. But I enjoyed every single moment.
For a while, we had the field all to ourselves. Then other visitors started showing up --families, fans of the movie and even a youth baseball team. Thirty years after “Field of Dreams” first was shown in theaters, people -- a lot of people -- still come. Many more will come in August 2020, when the New York Yankees take on the Chicago White Sox in a temporary stadium erected on the farm, adjacent to the movie field.
The Field of Dreams Movie Site is located at 28995 Lansing Road, Dyersville, Iowa. The closest airports are in Cedar Rapids or Iowa City. Dyersville is about a three-hour drive from Chicago, less than four hours from Milwaukee and less than six from St. Louis. fieldofdreamsmoviesite.com.
Kevin Braun lives in Stone Mountain, Ga.,, and is associate editor of Georgia Magazine. Writing about baseball combines two of his greatest loves. He wrote profiles of several former MLB players for baseballsavvy.com.