This past weekend my fiancee and I went up to a wedding in Rockford, Illinois. I convinced her to take a small detour through Iowa to see the Field of Dreams from the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones. It was also #2 on my Top 5 List of baseball movies. Needless to say, I was pretty excited about our trek through the Hawkeye State.
Before we made it to the most well known fake baseball field of all time, we stopped off in Iowa City to visit the University of Iowa. Naturally, I wanted to go by their football stadium.
Unfortunately, that’s as close as we could get to Kinnick Stadium. The whole thing was locked up and I didn’t feel like trying to scale the fence. On the whole, though, I was very impressed. It’s a big stadium and it’s very nice.
Anyway, that’s not the point of this post at all. After we left Iowa City, we drove another 90 minutes to the town of Dyersville. I haven’t been that in the middle of nowhere in quite a while. You actually have to drive through the small town and then out on a county road for another three miles. But I must say, it’s worth the drive.
There’s not really a whole lot to it. You drive out into a cornfield and suddenly there’s a baseball field and farm house.
But it looks exactly like it does in the movie. You can walk right up to the corn where Shoeless Joe Jackson appears, or stand on the spot where Moonlight Graham saves Kevin Costner’s daughter. It’s all something that you have to want to see in order to enjoy. There is no museum or tour or anything like that. Just a house and a field.
When we first arrived there was no one there. There was a cashier at the gift shop and the two of us. It was almost kind of spooky since there was no noise to be heard. Obviously no interstates run past the area and there were no planes or anything else. The only thing you could hear was the wind through the corn and there was plenty of each.
The first thing I did was stop and read the movie facts board that they had placed near the field. It told me things about the construction of the field (it took three days) and about Moonlight Graham’s career (the shortest in history). Then I made my way out to the actual field where I took some pictures and just walked around. I walked to home plate, the pitcher’s mound, around all the bases, to the outfield, around the bleachers; I went everywhere. Visitors aren’t allowed inside the house, or I’d have gone in there as well. Instead, I just took more pictures.
After we walked around for a while longer, more people started showing up. We made our way to the gift shop to see if there was anything that we couldn’t live without. We ended up talking to the cashier for about 45 minutes about all sorts of things. She had a thick northern accent and seemed impressed that we had driven all the way from Columbia.
I kind of wish we had gone in the Summer time. Since it was about 45 degrees, we couldn’t really play catch and there was little hope of a game happening. Apparently when it’s warm people will play games out there, which would be really neat.
Overall, the experience was a memorable one. I would suggest any baseball fan make the trip at least once. It’s not something that you can be half-hearted about. You have to want to go or you probably won’t enjoy it. The simplicity and serenity of the whole area is what makes it beautiful.
The whole thing can be summed up by the quote given by James Earl Jones near the end of the movie:
Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
This quote is absolutely 100% how you feel when you step on that baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa. Perfect.