Yankees and White Sox to Take over ‘Field of Dreams’

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DYERSVILLE, Iowa — The genius of “Field of Dreams,” and perhaps the reason why the film lasts, is that it knows it shouldn’t make sense. Sounds in corn stalks tell a farmer to build a baseball field for ghosts. Some people can’t see this. They are logical, therefore they do not understand. This is their loss.

Major League Baseball will stage an actual game here on Thursday, with the Yankees playing the Chicago White Sox, on a new field in two Joey Gallo moonshots from the original. Players will weave the cornfield at the movie site and walk a path to their diamonds. There are 8,000 seats, but none beyond the chain-link outfield walls. It’s all corn.

“I’m excited to be running across the cornfields,” said Liam Hendriks, close to All-Star for the White Sox. “Who wouldn’t?”

In fact, a lot of people would sniff the whole idea. When the movie was released in 1989, Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers gave it a “cute fairy tale” in the words of James Earl Jones “unforgivably concise” near the end. The internet offers a wave of thoughts that trash the movie, much of it written in the last few years. With the cynicism in style, this is no surprise.

But baseball has never been pure, and that’s an important plot point in the movie. Who shows up first to play on Kevin Costner’s shimmering ballpark? Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven White Sox teammates banned for life for conspiring to ditch the 1919 World Series.

Losing on purpose is a basketball player’s greatest sin. Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, offers redemption. The religious is not only in style, but also in dialogue; More than one character wonders out loud if this is paradise. “Field of Dreams” is a different kind of movie and that’s why it stands apart.

“In ‘Rocky’ and ‘Hoosiers’ and ‘The Natural’, they all have a big game at the end; “We’re heading for a big game, that’s what sports movies are all about,” said Chicago Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper, who replaced Gene Siskel in “At The Movies” with Roger Ebert. “At Field of Dreams, we don’t really understand that. It’s more about the timeless nature of baseball.”

Thursday’s setting has been carefully designed to enhance that feeling, but a few modern necessities take away a bit of romance. A Nike swoosh enters the front of the teams retro style uniforms, and the event is offered by an insurance company. There are batting cages and air-conditioned clubhouses—temporary but spacious—for players who don’t dare walk away: Both teams will fly in on Thursday morning and leave on Thursday night.

“It’s a pretty long list of milestones we have to stay on track to reach the top on August 12,” said Annemarie Roe, president of BaAM, an events management company that designed the new facility. “Perfect field, perfectly high corn, playtime with the sun setting in the right direction, lighting working exactly as planned – and then bringing 8,000 people and staff to a site that wouldn’t normally exist. It’s nothing more than a tractor running through it.”

Of course, the discomfort of the location is part of the charm. A visitor traversing miles of freeway surrounded by cornfields will be reminded of a similar trek to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY—much more bumpy and windy, yes, but the sensitivity is the same.

It seemed fitting that Josh Rawitch, who will be inaugurated as the new Hall of Fame president next month, would arrive with his family on Wednesday as part of their journey from Scottsdale, Arizona to New York.

“We planned our entire trip around the country and hooked it up to this game so we could be a part of it,” said Rawitch, a former manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“My daughter didn’t see the movie, and while we were driving, I was telling her about it, and I finally got sick of telling her about playing catch with your dad. And I laughed a little – it’s like, I can’t believe I choked talking about it – but something about this pilgrimage to the Field of Dreams connects you to previous generations. That’s what the movie wanted to do. It wasn’t just Ray Kinsella and his father, it’s been baseball for generations. Cooperstown does that too.”

Actor Dwier Brown, who plays Ray Kinsella’s father, lost his own father a month before filming began in 1988, giving the role an extra emotional weight. When the movie ended, Brown found himself and his co-stars crying as they watched the casting.

Yet, for all its emotional impact, the movie based on WP Kinsella’s novel “Shoeless Joe” did not become a definitive success. Brown said that initially there were fears that it would go straight to video.

“Universal has, I think, released it on four screens nationwide — four screens, which shows you how much they care,” Brown said. “It just spread and suddenly it was in 20 theaters and then it ended in 1,800 theaters. For a movie with a $14.5 million budget, this was pretty awesome.

“But anyone who tells you they know they know it will have such an effect, I think, is lying to you. We did it because the script was so beautiful and pure that you knew it was. immortality it will be a success. So no sex, no violence, no bad language, none of the things that make a movie popular were not present in this script. So I don’t think any of us really have an opinion.”

The studio should have known better. Nostalgia is a powerful force in life, and especially in baseball. The sport is forever worried about its appeal to young fans, but somehow it continues to find them from generation to generation. No other movie has captured it so poignantly.

“It is based on dreams of old-fashioned baseball,” wrote former Yankees outfielder Paul O’Neill. a memoir about her relationship with her fatherHe talked about the movie. “Just the stories and old time players bring back memories of how the game used to be. Analytics, all the numbers and everything we’re talking about now was much simpler. They were just little kids watching baseball games.”

The movie has its flaws, of course, not just Ray Liotta’s portrayal of Jackson. a right-handed dough. Even in a fantasy, only white ghosts come to play on Kinsella’s court; this is a shortcoming that is clearly glaring now but should have been obvious at the time. The film’s director, Phil Alden Robinson, is this week. Sweeny Murti’s podcast He said he would always regret his failure to recruit players from the Negro Leagues among the ghosts.

Jones, who is at least Black, joined the players lost in the cornfield and his speech is the soul of the movie. As corny as the words may sound, Jones’ bold, authoritative presentation made them the anthem of a sport that respects its roots:

“This pitch, this game is part of our history, Ray. It reminds us of everything that was once good, and it can happen again.”

Maybe you don’t believe it, and that’s understandable. Not everyone can see.

But many people can. We always have and always will be.

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