Is this heaven? No, its Iowa

Now anyone can rattle off a movie line right? We’ve all done it. We all know a few don’t we. Quiz time. “You can’t handle the truth”; “we’re gonna need a bigger boat”; “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”; “there’s no crying in baseball”; “they’re here”. Go on, how many did you get? Here’s one for you: “if you build it, he will come.”

With those seven words, I have just taken you to 1989 and to Dyersville, Iowa. With those seven words, I have gifted you Ray Liotta, Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster. With those seven words, we have gone to the Field of Dreams. 

Now, Dyersville and the ‘Field of Dreams’ movie site have been a tourist draw for some years due to movie fans love of the 1989 movie. However, that tourist draw was stepped up to a whole new level, when Major League Baseball hosted a game between New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. The game was played at a stadium near the movie site.

So, what can I tell you about ‘Field of Dreams’. Let’s start at the very beginning.

Who wrote Field of Dreams

The Field of Dreams movie began life in the mind of writer W.P. Kinsella back in 1982. Kinsella  loved America’s favourite pastime, so it was only natural that baseball found its way into his work. Kinsella was enrolled in the Iowa writers workshop at the time of writing Shoeless Joe

 The movie

Phil Alden Robinson found Kinsella`s story and a new love for the book unfolded. Robinson spent many years trying for the green light for the screenplay but it was tough going.  Eventually, the go-ahead was given. In the summer of 1988, for 70 days,  Hollywood in its movie making entirety descended on Iowa. On release, the movie earned a total of approximately $68,000,000 US dollars at the box office and also gathered three Oscar nominations including the coveted ‘Best Picture’.

Iowa sat under a Hollywood spotlight and continues to do so to this day, thanks to the delightful movie and it’s heavyweight stars Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster, amongst others. Iowa and the rest of the world watched as Costner turned his cornfield into a baseball diamond after hearing the prophetic voice “if you build it, he will come.”

Field of Dreams Cast

The cast for this movie was a blessed one. Kevin Costner played Ray Kinsella alongside Amy Madigan as his wife Annie. Gaby Hoffman, in one of her earliest roles, rounded out the Kinsella family as daughter Karin. Ray Liotta gave us a stellar performance as the legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson. Dwier Brown played Rays father John, someone he had been estranged from through the movie. The cast was completed in an exemplary manner with James Earl Jones as Terence Mann and Burt Lancaster, in his last movie role.


Where is Dyersville? Where is the Field of Dreams?

Eastern Iowa houses Delaware county and also Dubuque county. This is where you will find Dyersville. The actual movie site is located a few miles north east of Dyersville. Following the release of the movie, the site became a tourist attraction, something it can still boast today. It is near our original movie site,  that Major League Baseball built a new 8000 seater stadium, ready to bring the game back to Iowa. Ready to revisit ‘field of dreams’.


Can I stay at the house from ‘Field of Dreams’?

This is a common question asked. Movie lovers (me included!) love to visit locations and why not! Whether you are a fan or simply someone wanting a room, the iconic farmhouse is definitely somewhere you can spend the night. I bet you can picture yourself standing on the deck of that white farmhouse looking over to the baseball diamond. Prices start at $500 per night and like anywhere you stay, they vary based on the night of the week that you choose. There are several packages that can be chosen.

How did the Field of Dreams game come to life?

In 2016, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred took himself on a visit to the field of dreams site. He said, in an interview with ‘The register’ that “playing a game there made sense”. Now roll forward to 2019. After a few years working on the intricacies of getting a game there, it was announced that the Yankees & White Sox would play in Dyersville, at The Field of Dreams in 2020. The Yankees were later replaced by the St Louis Cardinals due to situations beyond their control.

Then of course, a situation beyond the world’s control, arrived to greet us. We were in the throes of a pandemic. COVID-19. Because of the pandemic, the game was postponed. Then 2021 was to be the year of choice. Game on. 

Tickets to the game were precious. Tickets to the game were highly sought after. After all, how do you decide who gets a seat out of the 8000 when so many want to come? Those that lived in Iowa had the chance to enter a lottery to get their ticket. Those lucky enough to win received a call from MLB to let them know. The tickets were that highly sought after and regarded that people were paying handsomely. One person paid $771 for 2 seats while others paid in the thousands to ensure their seat watching history unfold.

 What did the MLB give to the site for the game?

Think, Comiskey Park and you’re pretty much right on the money. A 12 foot wall graced the plot in centre field. Both teams bullpens being placed behind that wall. The right hand side of the field saw an old barn wood scoreboard. The dimensions of the field were 355 feet down the left & right lines with a 400ft measure to the centre. All of the above not dissimilar to Comiskey.  

Hollywood comes home to Iowa

While the teams entered via the cornfield (which was actually a removable panel in the fence), they were preceded by someone else. Walking out to the diamond, was Kevin Costner, Ray Kinsella from Field of Dreams. While Kevin gave a speech, one line stands out. “Is this heaven?” Costner asked the crowd. “Yes it is” he said.


Team players

Adding to the atmosphere of the entire event were the ‘throwback’ uniforms that the players wore. The Chicago uniform of white with navy pinstripes, along with the vintage Sox monogram added a retro feel. The Yankees gray uniform with New York stitched in navy, honoured the replica feel.

The game

I would imagine, that everyone present and watching, (myself included) would have loved to see a Kevin Costner first pitch but this was not to happen. Having a celebrity take the first pitch, would have removed the focus of the game, which was the players and the game itself.

In total through the game, there were eight home runs. The game ended on a 9-8 win to the White Sox.

Moving forward in 2022

MLB has made the formal announcement that baseball is coming home to Dyersville in 2022. Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds are rostered to play. August 11 2022 is game day so put that on your calendar.