clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A visit to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa

All of this began with a movie that isn’t really about baseball at all.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Al Yellon

DYERSVILLE, Iowa — In 1989, when the movie “Field of Dreams” was released, I don’t think anyone would have thought the location, which is pretty far off the proverbial beaten path, would become a place not only for baseball fans to flock to, but the site for Major League Baseball to stage two regular-season games.

The film is based on a novel by W.P. Kinsella called “Shoeless Joe” (and if you haven’t read it, you really should, it’s wonderful). It’s got a lot of baseball in it, but in the end, the movie made about the book really isn’t about baseball at all. It’s about fathers’ connection to sons (and daughters, too), about family in general and many other things only peripherally connected to the sport. That’s why a simple baseball field cut into a cornfield a few miles outside a town of about 4,000 in Iowa has such meaning to so many people.

I was reminded of that on the pleasant three-plus hour drive to Dyersville from Chicago, during which I passed lots and lots and lots and lots and LOTS of cornfields. When the sellout attendance of 7,823 was announced at Thursday’s game, the video board also noted that fans were accompanied by “8,750,000 corn stalks.” I’m guessing there were probably a lot more corn stalks than that between Chicago and Dyersville.

With this being a small town and not really a place designed for large crowds to gather, this was the scene a little bit after 2:30 Thursday afternoon just outside downtown Dyersville, a long line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot at the Field of Dreams:

Al Yellon

It took a long time, probably 45 minutes from Dyersville, until I got to this parking spot:

Al Yellon

Then, just to remind you how far you are from various places:

Al Yellon

The Reds, who were the home team for the game, wore uniforms from 1919, commemorating their World Series win that year. Their ballpark in Cincinnati was known as Redland Field from 1912 through 1933, when it was renamed Crosley Field in honor of then-team owner Powel Crosley. Crosley Field remained the Reds’ home through June 24, 1970. Incidentally, while there were quite a few Reds fans in attendance at the game, the crowd was definitely more Cubs-centric, I’d say about 60-40 Cubs fans.

The scene at the movie set ball field was quite crowded:

Al Yellon
Al Yellon

As were the lines to buy stuff:

Al Yellon

After heading through this, you arrive at the MLB ballpark, which, as the sign above noted, is about a quarter mile west of the movie set field:

Al Yellon

Here are some more views of the field pre-game (seven photos below):

The pre-game ceremony was simple, but moving. (I have to admit, I love ceremonies like this, that connect baseball’s past to its present.)

Here are the players walking on to the field from the corn, from my vantage point down the third-base line. The uniforms chosen for both teams were outstanding.

Keeping with the fathers/sons theme, Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. played catch in the outfield before the game, and then various luminaries from both the Cubs and Reds participated, and this ceremonial pitch [VIDEO] from Cubs Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins to Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench captured the moment perfectly.

Fergie’s always been one of my favorites. He’ll turn 80 in December. I’m so glad he was able to be part of this event. Other Cubs Hall of Famers who participated: Billy Williams, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg and Lee Smith.

Ian Happ, often an eloquent spokesman for the Cubs, summed up this perfect evening:

He’s right. That’s absolutely why we love baseball — not just for the sport itself and the winning and losing, but about the connections we make with family, and with friends. Many of you have asked me why the Wrigley Field bleachers are so important to me, and one of the things that’s best about sitting there is the friends I’ve made, lifelong friends with whom I share much more than just baseball.

It’s also why we all gather here at this website every day, to discuss baseball and, inevitably, other things. I’ve also made lifelong friends from people I had not known before they commented here at Bleed Cubbie Blue, one of the most rewarding things I’ve had personaly from running this site.

That’s why the three and a half hour drive was worth making to see this field, this site, this baseball game, to remind me not only of my deep personal connection to baseball but the way the game connects so many people and its influence on American society. The location in Iowa is absolutely a little bit of heaven for any baseball fan.

As for the game itself, MLB couldn’t have done better. The setting was perfect. The gameday staff was beyond friendly and helpful, and even exiting the parking lot was easy (a lot easier than getting in!). And as if the scene couldn’t have been perfect enough on its own, in the eighth inning we were treated to the scene of a beautiful full moon rising — right over the scoreboard in right field:

Al Yellon

After the Cubs won, they shot off fireworks:

Al Yellon

Is the movie hokey? Sure, a little, but its theme endures forever. Is this field hard to get to? Yep, most definitely. (If you’re interested in how the movie setting came to be, this is a good article to read.) Was this drive and this game worth it? Unquestionably, yes. I’m glad I did it for the experience alone, and seeing the Cubs win and put on the field some guys who might be part of that “Next Great Cubs team” was the proverbial cherry on top.

If you have a chance to go to the Field of Dreams, do it — and I might go back, someday, when it’s less crowded, to see what it’s like when there’s no hoopla, just heaven in Iowa.