Twenty-five years ago Kevin Costner brought us the movie “Field of Dreams.” It was adapted from the novel “Shoeless Joe” by W.P. Kinsella. On the surface it can be categorized as a baseball movie. But the story transcends that and touches broader human themes of faith, family, forgiveness, and connection. The classic line, “If you build it, he will come.” Has taken on a life of it’s own.
The field used in the movie was built in the town of Dyersville, Iowa. After the film’s release, Costner persuaded the Lansings and Ameskamps, the landowners of the field to temporarily keep it. The word “temporary” no longer applies. As the movie predicted, they came, from all over the country, for multiple reasons. As many as 70,000 people annually come to play catch with a toddler or an aging loved one. They have weddings and they spread ashes. Like a great cathedral it has become a pilgrimage destination. People leave behind clothing and jewelry like offerings.
It wasn’t all perfect. The Ameskamps allowed organized events on their half of the field, while the Lansings restricted their part of the property to games of catch. Eventually Lansing bought out the Ameskamps, then two years ago “Go the Distance Baseball” purchased the farm. The Lansings still do some of the maintenance and run the gift shop. Thankfully the new owners maintain the no fee admission policy accepting only donations. Every other Sunday a group of former amateur players and some towns people dressed up in throwback uniforms, walk out of the corn field to serve as unofficial curators. It is fantasy turned into reality.