Gaze at the grandeur! Iowa's Field of Dreams

May 14th, 2021

DYERSVILLE, Iowa -- I’m sitting on the wooden bleachers at the Field of Dreams. The sky is bright blue, a shade I haven’t seen in a while. A busload of middle schoolers are here from Galena, Ill., 40 miles away. They’re laughing their way through a Friday afternoon softball game, swinging for cornfields that have yet to sprout.

There are approximately 15 infielders and a half-dozen outfielders per team. (Try beating that shift.) Some of the kids have gloves. Some of them don’t. It doesn’t matter. No one whispers about the score.

“Way to be a team player!” a parent chaperone calls out after a smooth defensive play.

Ray Kinsella was right: Maybe this is heaven.

And this place -- site of the classic 1989 film, home of America’s baseball soul -- is the perfect venue for a Major League Baseball game in 2021. The White Sox and Yankees will meet here in the inaugural MLB at Field of Dreams game on Aug. 12.

From a bleacher seat, a few feet from the “Ray Loves Annie” carving we remember from the movie, I can see the twin ballfields where simple pleasures and grand ambitions turn double plays in our consciousness.

There’s the movie field, which has been preserved -- in all its homespun wonder -- for over 30 years, most recently by Go The Distance Baseball, LLC. The field remains open to the public from dawn to dusk. (Bring your glove. I did.)

And now there’s an adjacent field built to MLB specifications, carved into nearly 20 acres of Iowa farmland. The project required the movement of nearly 30,000 cubic yards of material, under the supervision of MLB consultant Murray Cook. Construction of the temporary seating bowl and locker rooms will begin July 1.

Less than three months from now, the likes of , , and will take batting practice against a backdrop of cornstalks stretching 12 feet tall. And they’ll relish the experience like the kids from Galena.

I waited Friday for the school buses to depart, surveyed the casual queue of fellow pilgrims, and grabbed my glove when no one else was on the field.

Roman Weinberg, operations manager at the Field of Dreams movie site, graciously offered to play catch. We took turns throwing BP to each other. New friends from Wisconsin joined us. We talked baseball. We told stories. We laughed. From the time I arrived at 9:15 a.m. to my reluctant departure after 4:30 p.m., every conversation began and ended with a smile. No one was in a rush.

Twenty-four hours earlier, I’d been at American Family Field in Milwaukee as the on-site reporter for our MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube between the Brewers and Cardinals. During that broadcast, I shared the report that Brewers home games would return to full capacity starting June 25. Updated guidance from the CDC -- disseminated while I was at the ballpark -- added a profound sense of optimism to my journey to Dyersville.

From my spot on the bleachers, I reflected on the big and small joys that mean more now than ever before -- from attending a Major League game to playing catch with your father or a new friend that you met that day.

I have a bank of Field of Dreams quotations in my memory. I’m sure you do, too. But it’s time to update one of my favorite lines. In his stirring monologue, James Earl Jones says as Terence Mann, “They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom.”

It’s different now. We know exactly why we’re coming to Iowa. For more than a year, we’ve all had dreams we couldn’t realize, friends we couldn’t see, places we couldn’t visit. On Friday, I experienced a place that carries more magic in real life than it ever did on the screen.