Yankees and White Sox to take control of “Field of Dreams”
DYERSVILLE, Iowa – The genius of “Field of Dreams” and perhaps the reason the movie endures is that he knows it shouldn’t make sense. Voices in the corn stalks tell a farmer to build a baseball field for the ghosts. Some people can’t see it. They are rational, so they don’t understand. It is their loss.
Major League Baseball will host a real game here on Thursday, with the Yankees playing against the Chicago White Sox, on a new ground two moon shots from Joey Gallo from the original. Players will cross the cornfield at the movie site and take a path to their diamond. There are 8,000 seats, but none beyond the outer walls of the field. It’s all corn.
“I’m thrilled to be running through the cornfields,” said Liam Hendriks, the White Sox’s closest all-star. ” Who would not be ? “
Many people, in fact, would sniff the idea. At the film’s 1989 premiere, Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers called it a “gooey fable” with an “inexcusably sappy” soliloquy by James Earl Jones towards the end. The internet offers a wave of thought-provoking articles that trash the film, most of them written in recent years. With cynicism in the style, it’s no surprise.
But baseball was never pure, and that’s a major plot point of the film. Who shows up for the first time on Kevin Costner’s sparkling ball field? Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven White Sox teammates who were banned for life for conspiring to start the 1919 World Series.
Losing on purpose is a baseball player’s worst possible sin. Costner’s character Ray Kinsella offers redemption. It’s not just the connotation that’s religious, it’s right there in the dialogue; several characters wonder aloud if it is paradise. “Field of Dreams” is a film of a different genre, and that’s why it stands out.
“In ‘Rocky’ and ‘Hoosiers’ and ‘The Natural’, these all have the big game at the end; we’re heading into the big game, that’s what sports movies are all about, ”said Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times critic who succeeded Gene Siskel on“ At the Movies ”with Roger Ebert. “We don’t really have that in ‘Field of Dreams’. It’s more about the timeless nature of baseball.
Thursday’s setting has been carefully crafted to enhance that feeling, though a few modern necessities dampen the romance a bit. A Nike swoosh creeps across the front of the teams’ retro-styled uniforms, and the event is presented by an insurance company. There are air-conditioned batting cages and pavilions – temporary but spacious – for players, who won’t venture far: Both teams will fly Thursday morning and depart Thursday night.
“It’s a pretty long list of milestones that we need to cross to stay on track to reach the top on August 12,” said Annemarie Roe, president of BaAM, an event management company that crafted the news. installation. “The perfect field, the corn at the perfect height, the moment of play with the sun in the right direction setting, the lighting working exactly as intended – then bringing 8,000 people plus staff to a site that didn’t. usually not everything except a tractor that goes through.
Of course, part of the charm is the downside of the location. Driving miles of highway lined with cornfields, a visitor recalls a similar trip to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY – much more hilly and windy, yes, but the sensitivity is the same.
It seemed entirely fitting that Josh Rawitch, who begins next month as the new Hall of Fame president, visited here with his family on Wednesday as part of their trip from Scottsdale, Ariz., North of the New York State.
“We planned our whole trip across the country and tied it to this game so we could be a part of it,” said Rawitch, a former Arizona Diamondbacks executive.
“My daughter didn’t see the movie, and while we were driving I was explaining to her and literally choking myself telling her to play wrestling with your dad at the end. And I kind of laughed – like, I can’t believe I’m choking on talking about this – but something about this pilgrimage to the Field of Dreams, it connects you to previous generations. This is what the film intended to do. It wasn’t just Ray Kinsella and his dad, it was generations of baseball. This is also what Cooperstown does.
Dwier Brown, the actor who played Ray Kinsella’s father, lost his own father a month before filming began in 1988, giving the role extra emotional weight. At the end of the film, Brown found himself with his co-stars crying while watching the casting screening.
Yet for all its emotional punch, the film – based on WP Kinsella’s novel “Shoeless Joe” – was not a certain success. Initially, Brown said, there were concerns that it would go straight to video.
“Universal put it out, I think, on four screens across the country – four screens, which tells you how much they care,” Brown said. “It spread, and all of a sudden it was in 20 theaters, then it ended up in 1,800 theaters. For a film with a budget of $ 14.5 million, that was pretty spectacular.
“But whoever tells you that he knew it was going to have that kind of effect, I think, is lying to you. We did it because the script was so beautiful and pure in a way that you knew it was. not is going to be a success. I mean, there is no sex, there is no violence, there is no bad language, none of the things that make a movie popular were in this script. So, I don’t think any of us really had a clue.
The studio should have known better. Nostalgia is a powerful force, in life and especially in baseball. The sport never ceases to worry about its appeal to young fans, but somehow it continues to find them generation after generation. No other movie has ever captured this so poignantly.
“He’s clinging to old school baseball dreams,” former Yankees outfielder Paul O’Neill, who has written memoirs about his relationship with his father, said of the film. “Just the stories and the players of old, it brings back memories of what the game was like. The analytics and all the numbers and all the things that we’re talking about now, it was a lot simpler. They were just little kids watching baseball games.
The movie has its flaws, of course, and not just Ray Liotta’s portrayal of Jackson as a right-handed hitter. Even in a fantasy, only white ghosts come to play on Kinsella’s pitch, an omission that stands out sharply now but should have been obvious back then. Film director Phil Alden Robinson admitted this week on Sweeny Murti’s podcast that he would always regret his failure to include Black League players among the ghosts.
At least Jones, who is black, was able to join the players as they melted into the cornfield, and his speech is the soul of the film. As cheesy (ahem) as the words may sound, Jones’ bold and authoritative speech made it an anthem for a sport that rightly reveres its roots:
“This field, this game, it’s part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of everything that was good once, and it could be good again.
Maybe you don’t believe it, and that’s understandable. Not everyone can see.
But a lot of people can. We always have and always will.