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Sports & Fitness // Hot Air
Steve Murray

Field Of Dreams Sale Saves Image

Wade Boggs is hoping that if they build it, more people will come. An investment group that includes the Hall of Fame third baseman has purchased the Dyersville, Iowa, baseball diamond that was featured in Field of Dreams. The group will turn the 193-acre site into All-Star Ballpark Heaven, a 24-field complex for youth baseball and softball players, while keeping the original field.

The sale had raised traffic and other infrastructure concerns in the community, but the plan most likely spared the iconic field from destruction.

Tim Busfield was correct – you can’t keep a ball field on valuable farm land, and had a use not been found for the site, it is quite likely the land would have reverted back to a corn field. If that happened, something very real may have been lost – at least in the eyes of us fellow baseball geeks and movie fans.

Field of Dreams remains popular because it maintains the bucolic image of the game, and of America itself. Even if baseball’s rural heritage owes more to the imagination than to historical accuracy, it is comforting to see the game, the country and ourselves in a simpler, more pure form. The movie also brought up the lingering battle between liberalism and conservatism in the face of dissenting opinion, which is always fun.

James Earl Jones, in his role as Terrance Mann, was correct. People did come, though not enough to forever maintain the cultural importance of the site over its economic realities.

“They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past,” says Mann in the greatest monologue in baseball movie history. “This field, this game, it’s a part of our past … it reminds us all of all that once was good, and could be again.”

Of course, Ray Kinsella’s ultimate fantasy baseball team lacked anyone of color and failed in other historically important areas – like turning Shoeless Joe Jackson into a right-handed hitter. But it doesn’t matter. Field of Dreams was a mixture of fantasy and reality in which we find solace. We can’t really pitch to Shoeless Joe, but we can sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon and watch a game, not in heaven, but in Iowa, or wherever we call home.

Within the characters we find ourselves, because it is money we have and peace we lack. Family divides, failed reconciliation, regret and even the simple joy of a father and son playing catch – which for some viewers was a snapshot into their youth and for others represented something hoped for but never achieved.

These are the issues we deal with and which the movie so perfectly exhibited, and the field it represents.

The ghostly ballplayers cussed, fought, spit tobacco and threw at each other, but they were still good guys, both heroic and sympathetic. Like Ray, like us, the players had something taken from them, which created a longing from which they never recovered. How can we not relate?

Sure, that’s a lot of pressure to be laid upon a patch of dirt, grass, chalk and tobacco stains, but it’s what kept the field alive.

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