Long before my (pre-quarantine) days were filled with school drop-offs, LOL dolls and Jojo Siwa, one of my favorite pastimes was taking road trips. As bad as my Cubs obsession is, my obsession with cars is even worse. There is nothing quite like cruising down the road with some good tunes headed somewhere new. Living in Northern Indiana until my late 20's, road trips to Wrigley were plentiful. However, some of my most memorable road trips have been the ones I have taken to the Field of Dreams.
I became a fan of the movie long after its theatrical release of 1989. Back in 1989, AssMatt was watching Michael Keaton lace up the Batsuit for the first time, or watching Marty McFly head to the actual future (where the Cubs won the World Series!). 13-year old me wasn't ready for a slower paced movie like Field of Dreams. Though, looking back it has road trips AND baseball...could it be any more perfect for me? Let's dig in there for a minute, besides the obvious themes of road trips and baseball there is this overarching them of second chances. Terrence Mann got to finally go see a baseball game, Moonlight Graham got his one at-bat, Ray got to have a catch with his long-departed father.
It's that last part that's the heart of why I love this movie. I wasn't even 30 years old before I lost both of my parents to cancer. My father lived in another state with his other family, I only saw him once a year (maybe twice) since I was 16 years old, and he passed at 50 years old. My mother (who is responsible for my love of baseball) passed a few years later. I wouldn't even meet my wife for another 5 years. So when Ray has a chance to introduce his family to his father, I feel that. Deeply.
When I made that first trip to Dyersville, Iowa it was late fall and all of the famous Iowa corn had already been harvested. There was a small nip in the air as I nervously followed my MapQuest directions to the site. I started getting a little nervous because the Field of Dreams truly is in the middle of nowhere, that's not creative editing at the end of the movie. So, I diligently following the directions and I just see empty field after empty field and then I see the house!
It was truly a bit surreal to pull in and see the house. It was that teenage dream of being able to 'jump' into the TV and be transported to the movie you were watching. Unfortunately, all of my pictures are lost to storage bin hell from multiple moves. I've had to borrow all the images for this post. So when I pulled in, the grass was dry and brown, the corn was gone, and I was the only soul there!!
It was very strange to be there alone. It was a mix of awe and "I hope I don't get arrested for trespassing." Back then, the site had two owners and as I recall it wasn't the best working relationship either. The movie had been out several years and hadn't quite reached it's current cult status. It felt as if the movie site was ready to disappear into obscurity. Maybe it was the chilly overcast day, but while it was great to finally visit, something felt unfinished. Luckily, my friend Todd had heard of my trip and wanted to go sometime. We made a plan to go the following Spring/Summer when it was warm out. That trip couldn't have been more different than my first visit.
I don't remember exactly when we took the trip, but I remember the weather was amazing! Todd and I have been friends for probably 25 years. We met in high school when my brother dated his sister for a while. He didn't have his license, so I would drive him so he could visit her. In the meantime, Todd and I became fast friends. He's the kind of friend where you can talk for hours or not say a word for the same time and it would just feel right. At this point in my life, I was driving a 1997 Pontiac Firebird Formula V8 Convertible. From the rumble of the V8 to the gorgeous scenery, there wasn't much to be said for long stretches.
That is, until we finally made it to Dyersville and pulled up to the Field of Dreams. Unlike my first visit, this time the place was PACKED. The grass was green, the corn was full, and there was a pickup game being played. It was a completely different and uplifting vibe that was completely missing from before. We walked out onto the field, got our pictures taken in the corn, and played a few innings in the pickup game. I even got a solid opposite field single in my only at-bat.
So then I guess the Field of Dreams is a lot like life. It's better when you can share it with those you love. Despite our current quarantine misery, I truly believe we will see baseball again this year. In fact, MLB is still planning to hold the MLB game at the Field of Dreams in August. We all know what kind of miracles can happen at this small field. Until next time, I'll leave you one of my most favorites lines in cinema.
Note: All images are borrowed from the internet. I make no claim and am only borrowing them for illustrative purposes.