There are few movies that have touched as many people as Field of Dreams. “If you build it, he will come” quickly morphed to “If you build it, they will come.” It became a mantra along the lines of Nike’s “just do it,” which was coined just a year before the film was released. It’s a testament to the power of film, to the power of dreams, and to the power of baseball.
I live in the Chicago area. This year the Chicago Cubs are in the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and as I write this they’re prepping for game six in Cleveland. It’s been 108 years since the Cubbies have won it all, and generations have lived and died without seeing a win. Over the weekend fans spent thousands of dollars to see history as it happened in Wrigley Field, and some Wrigleyville bars were charging as much as $250 – $300 just to get in the door – and people were paying it. My social media feed has (thankfully, albeit temporarily) gone from political rages and rants to a stream of well-wishes, hopes, and prayers for a bunch of guys playing with a stick and a ball.
Baseball, the most American of sports, is that powerful. Field of Dreams captured that magical quality of hope and redemption that baseball offers. The movie is nearly thirty years old, but the field itself lives on in Dyersville, Iowa, and is now a destination for fans of both the sport and the movie.
The idea of making the field where it happened an attraction might seem like a home run, but it took a bit of doing. When the movie was filmed the field straddled two farms, and the year after filming was complete the Ameskamp half replanted their field, while the Lansing half set up a souvenir stand. The next year Ameskamp restored his half and set up his own souvenir stand, so there were actually two attractions. In 2007 Rita Ameskamp sold her half to the Lansings, and in 2012 the whole shebang was purchased by Go the Distance Baseball, which operates the site to this day.
The Field of Dreams movie site is visited by thousands each summer. Some come with mitts, bats, and balls. Some come just to sit on the bleachers and soak in the atmosphere. Some walk into the fields and come back out again, just like Shoeless Joe and the rest.
One thing you couldn’t do, however, is go into the house – until now. This October they began offering tours of the farmhouse. They’ve restored the first floor so it looks like the movie set, and you’ll learn about the Lansing family that owned the 1906 farm house as well as how it was reborn as the home of the Kinsella’s.
Tickets are $20 for a 30-minute guided tour and you have to call 888-875-8404 at least 24 hours in advance to reserve a time. Admission to the field itself is free. For the full experience the best time to visit is when the corn is high, during the late summer. For more information visit fodmoviesite.com.