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The Field of Dreams Game – Part 4: People Will Come…with New York and Chicago Accents to Da Field

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

After spending a couple hours in downtown Dyersville on the day of the Field of Dreams game, I was ready to make the 4 mile drive to the movie site. I suspected New Yorkers and Chicagoans had brought their traffic jams to the one lane Dyersville East Road leading to the ballpark and it would take an unduly long time to get there.

While driving to the famous cornfield, Dyersvillians (or is it Dyersvillers??) were camped outside on lawn chairs warmly waving at the visitors from the two distant metropolises. Cars carrying the requisite digital tickets and parking passes (which came free with all tickets) patiently lined up for miles waiting for the parking lots to open at 2:00 (first pitch was set for 6:15 local time.) It was an odd get together of strange bedfellows, but the mood was so ebullient that nobody seem to notice the awkwardness.

Dyersville, Iowa welcomed visitors with open arms on the day of the Field of Dreams game.

​But I Digress…I lived in the Chicago area for my entire life until I got to Ann Arbor, Michigan for college at the age of 18 in 1989. Until I left town and saw the Superfans sketch on Saturday Night Live in 1991 in which they described their love of Da Bears and later Da Bulls. I never knew there was such a thing as a Chicago accent. Mine likely has softened over time since I have lived on the East Coast, but it comes back with a vengeance any time I visit family or friends back in the Windy City. Alas, given that the actors behind the Super Fans sketch were Cubs fans, they have never done a “Da Sox” skit.

Much to my delight, the traffic routing was efficient and well-coordinated. Security even opened the doors about 15 minutes early to accommodate the huge lines of eager fans. Once inside, I instinctively lined up at a souvenir stand just inside the gates, which turned out to be a stroke of luck. The only glitch in the entire operation that day that I saw was a lack of outlets for overpriced mementos and paraphernalia. I heard fans griping about hour long lines all evening, which made me relieved that I scooped up my merch early.

Whilte the traffic and parking were far easier than anticipated, the merchandise stands were insufficient for the deluge of fans eager to spend their money.

After securing my requisite “I was there” merch, I started to explore the original movie location. The fictional ballfield from the movie has remained a real tourist attraction and baseball pilgrimage mecca since the film’s release in 1989. On this day, it was a madhouse crowded with people as James Earl Jones’ Terrance Mann had predicted. It was another 'life imitating art imitating life' moment.

While I envisioned having some sort of introspective metaphorical search for movie’s “magic waters” or feeling some transformative experience when I crossed the white line onto the field, it was far too crowded and hot for the luxury of contemplation. Only after grabbing a Chicago dog and sitting against some corn stalks did I have a moment to just take it all in.

Left: The original farm house featured in the film was closed to the public on game day.

Right: Fans covered the film’s Field of Dreams throughout the pregame and during the game itself.

Left: Fox Sports broadcasters generally sported period attire while covering the game.

Right: The “ghost players” posed for pictures all day and were unofficial ambassadors for the Field of Dreams.

The madhouse at the original Field of Dreams diamond hours before the game.

Left: Semi-authentic Chicago dogs were served at the Field of Dream.

Right: The “Have a Catch” vs “Play Catch” debate was a major discussion topic in Iowa.

One moment I witnessed was particularly poignant. The actor who played John Kinsella (the father of Costner’s Ray Kinsella) Dwier Brown was gracing the site greeting fans and the media. I had seen interviews with Mr. Brown before and knew he has become an emotional magnet for father/son stories given the role he played in the movie. As I waited my turn to say hello, I saw Mr. Brown chatting with a man about my age. Despite not appearing to know the man, both soon were openly tearing up and embracing. I knew at that moment that not even the crass commercialism behind this event could spoil the genuine depth of emotion people feel towards this manufactured, yet sacred, patch of grass and corn.

Actor Dwier Brown, who played Kevin Coster’s dad John Kinsella in the Field of Dreams, graciously gave interviews and chatted with fans all day.

The path to the “The Ballpark at Field of Dreams” was other worldly cool. Because of the site’s topography, the major league field was about a quarter mile away from the original movie site. In order to access the ballpark, fans had to pass through a corn field that included a corn maze carved in the shape the MLB logo. Amongst the cornstalks, fans were demonstrably giddy to take selfies with cardboard cutouts of the White Sox and Yankees stars.

Top Left and Middle: The MLB Corn Maze between the original Field of Dreams and the Ballpark.

Top Right: The fans could only access the MLB Ballpark via a path through corn.

Bottom: A cardboard cutout of White Sox superstar and 2020 MVP Jose Abreau.

Left: A movie prop comes to life in the form of a grounds map in front of the farm house.

Right: The Field of Dreams movie itself comes to life before the eyes of 8,000 fans.

Many of the fans (including me) climbed onto hay bales to capture a snapshot of our first glimpse of the ballpark over giant cornstalks. Before we entered the grandstand, we passed a Woodstock or Burning Man phalanx of Porta Potties and an abundance of tidy food stands. Yet again, only one souvenir truck was situated near the majority of fans, leading to HUGE lines for limited merchandise (I overheard someone saying only XXXL sizes remained).

My first site of the Field of Dreams Ballpark (admittedly, through my camera’s monitor) over corn stalks was one of those moments when reality exceeded expectations.

Left: The Ghost Players wandered through the corn stalks leading to the ballpark.

Middle: Fans climbed on hay bales to photograph the ballpark.

Right: The “concourse” behind the third base grandstand.

Bottom: The view of the scoreboard towering over the corn stalks.

Upon my arrival to the ballpark, my senses were bombarded with a kaleidoscope of sights, smells and sounds. The sky had a Hollywoodized intense blue with wispy clouds that practically looked like a scene from the silver screen. That sunny sky carried an intense twilight heat that was accompanied by body penetrating humidity. The booming sound of the Yankees’ bats finishing practice had a strange sound when bouncing off the corn stalks instead of big league ballpark walls. Most impactful was the intermittent waft of manure smell coming from the nearby working farms. The Field of Dreams may have been a substantially manufactured experience, but certain aromas could not be masked by Hollywood, MLB or Fox Sports.

I must admit that the drone and remote camera shots that I later saw on the telecast were mesmerizing. Fox even lucked out with the crass commercialism of those dreaded advertising boards behind home plate. The faux wooden ad boards needed to be changed each inning by hand, which was mildly charming. On the positive side, Fox sprinkled various pre-packaged pieces from the broadcast on the scoreboard throughout the game. Most compelling were the movie clips that were played between innings. It was a surreal thing to see a movie cornfield against a re-creation of the real thing.

Movie clips on the jumbotron in left field provided a most remarkable life imitating art imitating life moment.

Left: Fox again replaced a hallowed tradition with the chance to pump their programming.

Middle: Kevin Costner delivers a moving pregame speech that transcended its prepackaged nature.

Right: Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal with Yankees Manager Aaron Boone.

Besides the anthem, the pregame festivities were refreshingly simple and low key. Field of Dreams star Kevin Costner emerged from the corn stalks in rightfield and languidly roamed (perhaps for a bit too long and too languid at over 2 minutes) around the outfield before delivering a neck hair raising speech from the pitcher’s mound.

Both of the White Sox and Yankees also entered the diamond via the same rightfield wall opening and after each player greeted Mr. Costner lined up along the outer edge of the infield. At times, the fans acted more like moviegoers and gazed upon the unfolding scene in relative silence.

Since the tickets were largely sold in pairs, there were not big groups of rowdy loud fans like at a normal ballpark. The hushed quiet, however, was punctured by a military flyover by four A-10 Warthogs. All in all, it was a nearly flawless introduction in what would become an instant classic baseball game.

The White Sox and Yankees line up during the pregame flyover.

Kevin Costner concludes his pregame speech.

All text and photographs (except as otherwise noted) Copyright Ken Smoller 2023 (aka Stadium Vagabond).

For more stadium, travel and sports photos, follow the Stadium Vagabond instagram page.


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