“Field of Dreams” Movie Site Continues to Draw Fans in Iowa 30 Years Later



Brian E. Clark

It’s late September, and like most Wisconsin baseball fans, my thoughts (my fingers crossed as I type) are with the Brewers playing in the playoffs and maybe even the World Series.

My musings also drift away from northeast Iowa and a former cornfield outside the small town of Dyersville (population 4,000) where the movie “Field of Dreams” was shot there. is 31 years old.

Considered one of the most beloved baseball movies of all time, it came out in 1989 and starred Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, and James Earl Jones. The film was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture.

The ball field, white farm, red barn and surrounding outbuildings where the movie was filmed remain almost exactly as they appeared in the movie three decades ago, thanks to a farmer named Don Lansing who was so in love. of the movie that he allowed hundreds of thousands of baseball fans to visit the site for free in the years that followed.

A farm sign from 1906 used in the film

The farm drew 115,000 visitors last year and that number could be eclipsed this year, said site operations director Roman Weinberg, who grew up in the area and was born five years after the film’s release.

I’m one of those fans and have visited Dyersrville once in a decade since then, making the trip – at different times – with my older brother, mum, and two boys. It is a kind of Mecca for families, especially fathers and sons.

Lansing sold the farm in 2012 to Go The Distance Baseball, run by the late Denise Stillman from the suburbs of Chicago. Admission to the farm and ball field remains free, although a farm tour costs $ 20 for adults.

The film tells the story of a potential farmer who came to the Midwest via the unlikely route from the University of California at Berkeley. He heard a voice as he was checking the humidity in a cornfield that told him “If you build it, it will come.” At the time, the farmer had no idea who “he” was.

Costner’s character Ray Kinsella (a nod to author WP Kinsella, who wrote the book the film was based on) is duly puzzled by the voice. He – and his neighbors – come to doubt his sanity when he plows under three acres of corn to build the bale field.

But the baseball field attracts the ghost of former Chicago White Sox player Shoeless Joe Jackson, who, along with seven teammates, was banned from the game for life for accepting money to start the 1919 World Series.

Ghost players come out of the cornfield at the "Field of dreams" movie site in Dyersville, Iowa.

The film takes Kinsella from Iowa to Boston via Minnesota. Ultimately, Kinsella is reunited with her estranged (and deceased) father to play wrestling on the pitch.

Perhaps the most famous dialogue comes from the start of the film when Jackson asks Kinsella if he’s in Heaven. “No, it’s Iowa,” Kinsella replies.

Weinberg said the film remains popular and that the farm and the ballpark continue to draw fans from all over the world because of what he called the film’s “many timeless life lessons.”

“There is so much to be learned from this,” he said. “He uses baseball as a metaphor, but it’s about redemption, second chances, chasing your dreams and listening to that inner voice that sometimes – even if it sounds crazy – is telling you to do what’s right in your life. heart. That’s why it continues to resonate, with people for more than a generation after its release.

Weinberg said Costner returned to Dyersville with his country group “Modern West” in 2014 to perform at a 25th anniversary celebration of the film. Fittingly, it took place on Father’s Day weekend. Dwier Brown was also present, who played Costner’s father in the film. Broadcaster Bob Costas introduced himself and Major League Baseball made a documentary about the rally.

A baseball player prepares to hit a ball at the Field of Dreams in northeast Iowa.

I first visited Lansing Farm about 15 years after the movie came out. I took a few hits at home – there is often a pickup play on the field – and I remember spilling a ball in left field and advancing to second base.

On a recent Saturday, Bruce Meerman of Sycamore, Ill., Was in the field with his son Mitchell, 27, and his wife, Sue. Meerman said he and his wife had seen the film at least half a dozen times, while Mitchell had only seen it once. I spoke to them when the father and son finished – as Costner said in the movie – “having a trap”.

Mitchell, who played baseball in high school and now lives in Madison, called the farm and field “a historic place in the baseball lexicon.” I would say it ranks number one in baseball stadiums like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.

It was the Meerman family’s first visit, and Mitchell’s dad said he was pleasantly surprised at how well maintained the field and farm was.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “And it’s cool how they planted the rows just far enough apart that you could walk through the cornfield, just like the ghost players did in the movie.”

Before we went our separate ways, the Meermans asked me if I wanted to join them in the field. Mitchell threw from the mound, Bruce caught and I connected with a few throws, the last one being a pop-up that Mitchell caught in front of the shortstop. (No double this time.)

Later, when I visited the farm, I was able to see where four generations of the Lansing family lived in the 1906 house and where many scenes from the movie were filmed. Guide Craig Purcell wore a White Sox uniform from the early 1900s.

Craig Purcell, a guide who gives tours of the 1906 farm used in the film

Weinberg said the company that now owns the farm plans to keep the three-plus acres on which the field is located for years to come. But a real big league match arrives at a site several hundred meters from the current diamond.

Major League Baseball is currently building a temporary field and stands that can accommodate 8,000 spectators for a game between the White Sox and the New York Yankees which will take place at 6 p.m. on August 13, 2020 and will be broadcast nationally on Fox. Sports.

Weinberg said the decision to hold the game outside of Dyersville was part of Major League Baseball’s decision in recent years to branch out with smaller and unusual parameters. The Braves and Marlins played Fort Bragg, NC in 2016, and the Cubs and Pirates faced off in the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa. This season on August 18.

More information: The Field of Dreams film site ball field, 28995 Lansing Road, Dyersville, is approximately 200 miles west of Milwaukee.

The farm and the baseball field are open daily; The gift shop is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, April 1 to October 31 (with later hours in July and August), and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in November. Entry to the field is free.

Thirty-minute guided tours are offered daily throughout the year and cost $ 20 for adults, $ 18 for those aged 65 and over, $ 12 for children, and $ 15 for serving military personnel and their spouses . Advance reservations are recommended. The 1906 farmhouse used in the film is also available for overnight rentals.

For more information, call (888) 875-8404 or consult fieldofdreamsmoviesite.com.

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