'We will be back': Commissioner talks Iowa

August 13th, 2021

It’s likely neither Commissioner Rob Manfred nor Kevin Costner ever envisioned they would be doing a press junket together, but then again, who would have ever thought a movie site in the middle of a corn field in Iowa would eventually be converted into a ballpark that would house a Major League Baseball game? 

Thirty-two years after the iconic film “Field of Dreams” became a smash hit, Manfred and Costner, the movie’s lead actor, joined thousands of fans at the very spot in Dyersville, Iowa, where the movie was filmed. Prior to the Yankees-White Sox matchup later in the evening, Manfred and Costner made several appearances together -- first on the set of MLB Network’s Intentional Talk, followed by a more traditional press conference near the field.

“I have to tell you when I walked out today -- I haven't been back since 2015 -- and saw the finished product, I'm just blown away,” Manfred said. “The work that our people at Major League Baseball did is absolutely phenomenal, right down to the littlest details about what the dugouts are going to look like, what the scoreboard was going to be, how it was going to be operated.” 

Manfred also confirmed that Major League Baseball will be returning to Iowa to host the Field of Dreams Game in August of 2022. He declined to name the teams that will be involved.

“I think the reception that this event has received has been so positive that we will be back,” Manfred said. “I think it's pretty clear we're going to be back next year and we'll have to talk about it after that. But it's just been so successful that it's hard not to take the opportunity to do it again.” 

Costner agreed that the Field of Dreams Game should extend beyond this year. At least, he hopes it will. 

“It does feel like all the teams are going to want to touch this,” he said. “There's going to be hot competition to play here. There's going to be records set here as a result of Field of Dreams. I hope it does happen.”

Costner, who has starred in several baseball movies, including “Bull Durham” and “For the Love of the Game,” fielded various questions, ranging from his own personal reflections on “Field of Dreams” to his satisfaction that the piece of land where the film was made continues to be an attraction, more than three decades later.

He also talked about the film’s ending, when his character makes amends with his dad with a game of catch. The moment still resonates with fans, old and young.  

“I know people get to the end of this movie and they just somehow wilt,” Costner said. “And I don't know why that is, but I do know a lot of it is about the things that go unsaid between us and our fathers and mothers that we wish that we could take back. And somewhere along the line, if you have some unfinished business, that movie starts to take over, and that's maybe why you go to that place.” 

Costner was also asked to settle a bet of sorts. Social media was abuzz all day, as a familiar debate raged: Which is the proper phrase -- “Play catch” or “Have a catch”? Ray Kinsella uses the latter in the final scene of the movie. Pockets of baseball fans still find it grating.

So which is it?

“I guess that’s an East Coast thing -- ‘Have a catch,’” Costner said. “I read that and immediately it was just like it was fingernails on a chalkboard for me.

“I’d say to my dad, ‘Let's play catch, let's play catch.’ And the [Field of Dreams] director said, ‘It’s have a catch. Have a catch.’ He was very detailed about that idea. It was a weird thing I had to get my arms around it. It was almost like I had to learn how to say it.”