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“Field of Dreams” is arguably the best movie ever made based on Baseball. Compelling characters like Shoeless Joe Jackson, and superb acting by Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones, drive a positive story and make for enjoyable viewing. Still, many people ask whether or not the tale is true.
The movie “Field of Dreams” is based on a W. P. Kinsella book , is a novel, and as such the story is not true. However, the story can be considered pseudo-historical, as some details in the story are true, such as inclusion of players who indeed played in Major League Baseball, like backwoods slugger Joe Jackson, and star infielder Buck Weaver.
A major focus of the film was the 1919 Chicago White Sox ~ a real MLB team later renown as the Black Sox due to a huge gambling scandal involving their loss in the World Series. The Black Sox scandal so tarnished baseball that it nearly killed the game (until Babe Ruth’s emergence as a home run-bashing slugger renewed the public’s faith).
There are other examples of real-life details. However the broad story ~ of an Iowa man trying to save his farm by building a baseball field where cornstalks once stood, in a dramatic effort to reconnect with his father ~ is fiction.
“Field of Dreams” is the story of a struggling Iowa farmer named Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner in the movie’s lead. Already in financial distress and threatened to lose his home and property, Ray one evening in his cornfield hears a whispered voice: “if you build it, he will come.” From there, he pursues building a ball field, regardless of the financial calamity it could cause.
He razes a portion of his cornfield close to the home, and builds a baseball field there. Ray forges ahead with the project, despite ridicule from friends and neighbors, as he is unable to explain precisely why he was doing this on valuable farm property.
Ultimately the compulsion is rewarded with the emergence of ghosts of famous players using the field to practice and scrimmage ~ the 1919 Chicago White Sox. Among those players was his deceased father, which adds a powerful element to the ending.
The movie was nominated for best picture, best writing, and best music score, at the 1990 Academy Awards.
It’s actually singular: the Chicago White Sox, circa 1919. The players mysteriously walked out of corn fields at night, in full uniform.
They did not play another team. They basically scrimmaged amongst themselves. The deceased father of Ray, who made it to the Major Leagues but never had an at-bat, was part of the crew and was about ready to get that at bat.
Then the farm couple’s child fell from the stands, and the senior Kinsella, a doctor way back when, left the field to care for her.
Unfortunately, leaving the field ended the magic ~ off the field, the senior Kinsella was dressed in his physician’s attire, and once there he could not return to the field of play. Therefore, he would not get his much-desired at-bat in an MLB game.
That’s when Ray Jr. asked him to play catch, a key scene in the film.
“Field of Dreams” grossed over $84 million at the box office the year of its release in 1989, and was nominated for an Oscar award. It was not a Hollywood smash hit, but a hit nonetheless, and a rather surprising one since its studio at first did not market the film heavily.
Additionally, its competition that year included mega hits like the original “Batman” remake with Michael Keaton, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and “Dead Poets Society.” “Batman” eventually raked in over $251 million, “Last Crusade” $197 million, and “Dead Poets Society” with Robin Williams collected $174 million.
Eventually, word-of-mouth worked for “Field of Dreams” … and the film has enjoyed enduring success, with replays on television many times. Famous quotes from the movie, like Jones’ “The one constant through all the years, Ray, is baseball,” became pop culture legends.
The movie emotionally pulls at several heart strings, including a father-son relationship; a struggling homeowner with a Hail Mary attempt to save his home; and just serious hopes and dreams in general.
While it takes a while to develop, the father-son relationship in “Field of Dreams” can generate tears even on the second viewing. And third, and so on …
There are also very memorable scenes, including:
- When protagonist Ray first hears the whisper, “If you build it, he will come.”
- Repeated occasions where the whisper is heard, including by Ray’s wife in their home.
- While Ray razes corn stalks to build a baseball field at his home, which along with the entire property was about to be lost to a bank through foreclosure.
- Actor James Earl Jones’ wholly memorable “people will come” speech[VIDEO LINK: https://youtu.be/7SB16il97yw ]. (“People most definitely will come,” said Jones’ character, author Terrence Mann, who Ray tracked down in Boston and somehow convinced him to come back to Iowa to see the field).
- When “he” (and they) noted in the mysterious whisper ~ the 1919 White Sox ~ emerged from the cornfields that made up the field’s outfield fence line.
- Scenes of the old-time ballplayers on the field having fun playing, like children.
- Costner’s famous “You want to have a catch?” question to his father, shortly after he learned who it was.
- In the end, all the cars and headlights in line to get to the field in a nighttime setting with the field’s lights on.
Additionally, many people say it’s the best baseball movie they’d ever seen, or that “Field of Dreams” was the best film featuring the now-superstar Costner. (“Bull Durham” was released the following year, even though it was filmed before the filming of “Field of Dreams”).
‘Field of Dreams‘ Baseball Field After the Film
The ballfield used in the movie, in Dyersville, Iowa, was never torn down and instantly became a tourist attraction, with people visiting from near and far to see what all the fuss was about.
Then in recent years, an MLB-worthy stadium was built almost adjacent to the movie site, and ultimately hosted a MLB game, in summer 2021.
The so-called pop-up stadium built for the first regular-season game on the property (See next item) was designed in honor of the home of the Chicago White Sox from 1910 to 1990 ~ Comiskey Park. The Iowa version has bullpens beyond the centerfield fence, just like the original classic stadium, as are the outfield dimensions.
A modern touch was added: windows in the right-field wall so fans could see the cornfields behind, as well as the original movie site ball field.
After delays caused in part by the coronavirus pandemic emergency, the “Field of Dreams Game” at the Field of Dreams stadium occurred on Aug. 12, 2021. The regular-season MLB contest inside the new 8,000-capacity stadium was won by the White Sox over the New York Yankees, 9-8, on a walk-off home run by shortstop Tim Anderson.
It was the first MLB game played in the state of Iowa ~ and a native of the state, Pat Hoberg, was the home-plate umpire for the contest!
After the inaugural game’s success, Major League Baseball plans to make it an annual single-game event each August.
Question: Who owns the Field of Dreams ball field and property?
Answer: Major League Baseball hall of famer Frank Thomas, who, appropriately, played for the Chicago White Sox.
Q.: Why didn’t they just play the MLB game on the real movie site, instead of building a new stadium?
A.: The little movie site field surrounded by an outfield of corn stalks could not be improved to meet MLB game standards, without significantly and probably permanently altering significant features of the property, and wrecking its movie authenticity. In response, the MLB decided to construct a separate playing facility about 500 feet away in the cornfields ~ which continue to surround both facilities.
Q.: Why did Ray say “have a catch” near the end with his father, rather than “play catch”?
A.: “Have a catch” was the proper lingo in baseball when Ray’s father played, and the father probably used the phrase at home with his children, hence Ray using it to catch the attention of his long-gone father.
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