BEEN THERE: Jacqueline and I visited there in August 1998; see photos below.
"Is this heaven?" -- Ray Liotta, as Shoeless Joe Jackson. "No, it's Iowa." -- Kevin Costner, as Ray Kinsella.
"The one constant through the years, Ray, is baseball." James Earl Jones, as retired radical author Terence Mann, to Kevin Costner.
"If you build it, he will come." -- The Voice to Kevin Costner.
"Ease his pain." -- The Voice to Kevin Costner.
"Go the distance." -- The Voice to Kevin Costner.
This mystical little ballpark sits on a slope leading down to a stream, which visitors cross on their way into the parking lot. The field is therefore inclined rather significantly, with the right field edge being about five feet above home plate. In much of urban America, Iowa has the reputation for being an endless flatland, but in fact it consists mostly of rolling hills. The land on which this movie set was constructed actually stretches across a property line, and there are two separate gravel driveways leading in from the county road. After the movie was completed, the owner of the land in left and center field plowed under his half of the field and planted corn there, obviously motivated by rational business concerns. After many earnest appeals from baseball fans, they relented and started competing for tourist dollars by building a separate souvenir stand on their side.
CINEMA: The "Field of Dreams" was featured in the classic movie Field of Dreams (1988), obviously, or else it never would have been built.
I was surprised to learn from Philip Lowry's book Green Cathdrals that the field dimensions are so small. The seating capacity of 84 is based on 12 seats in each of the seven rows of the wooden bleacher behind first base.
One of the magical aspects of the movie was the way the players vanished into the cornfield after they finished playing. For a recreation of that movie special effect, see the cornfield photo below. (Speaking of which, late summer is by far the best time of year to visit the Field of Dreams, to get the closest "feel" to the original movie.) The reincarnated ghost players had to stay within the playing field or else forfeit their once-in-an-afterlifetime excursion into mortal existence once and for all. Burt Lancaster, as the rookie who only played for one inning in the major leagues before pursuing a career in medicine, saved Ray Kinsella's daughter's life. Links to relevant Web sites about the movie, and the book by W. P. Kinsella on which it was based, are found at the bottom of this page.
Indulging in fantasy is not everyone's cup of tea, but as long as baseball retains its special place in the hearts of Americans, this place will continue to serve a sanctuary from the rapid-fire, harshness of modern life. If you're anywhere close, take a couple extra hours to pay a visit. It's located a couple miles northeast of Dyersville, Iowa, which is about 25 miles west of Dubuque. The town has two other claims to fame: the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, which has a very impressive twin spire, and the National Farm Toy Museum.