Baseball is the only sport I follow, the only one left from my childhood which has remained close to what I remember it being.
I hope you are.
Hey Bill, you watching this game? I am! Sitting on my couch, watching as for the very first time in Major League Baseball history, a game is being played in Iowa; but not just anywhere in Iowa: at the farm that houses the original Field of Dreams field. Work began on this field in 2019, with an eye towards having the game last year. COVID caused it to be sidelined until this year, but it is taking place right now.
The New York Yankees against the Chicago White Sox. Wow. The Bronx Bombers against the team Shoeless Joe Jackson called his own. Just like the film, this is Shoeless Joe's team playing on the field made famous over thirty years ago.
Vintage uniforms, wooden plank fences (not really, but they look like they are wooden planks). the sun setting in a beautiful sky as the lights take over illuminating the field filled with professional baseball players. Simply a perfect setting.
The beginning was...Perfect
The game came on with Kevin Costner making his way through the corn. Where he was unable to go in the film, he emerges from onto a grass so green it dazzles the eyes. Goosebumps, people; goosebumps. He meandered across the outfield, looking this way and that, before coming to a halt in shallow right center, baseball in hand. Turning, he watched as the teams appeared from the cornfield beyond the fence, walking in to where Costner stood. Most, not all, stopped to shake hands with Costner, smiling and looking like a kid meeting a hero.
Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge emerged with a smile a mile wide, looking like a kid in the candy store. The smile continued as he made his way toward the infield, and continued still during the team introductions. Other players had those same smiles, players like Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu for the White Sox; I had to place myself among them. I could not have wiped that smile off my face either. Most, if not all, have seen the film I imagine, having grown up both playing the game and watching any baseball movie they could lay their hands on.
I read the book long before I knew of the film
Yes, Virginia, there is a book. Field of Dreams, released in 1989, was originally a book, titled Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, published in 1982. I remember reading the book and thoroughly enjoying it, then years later watching the film and going "Wait a minute! I know that story!" Both have become something of a treasure to me, with the book being special in one way and the film another.
Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Ray Liotta, Amy Madigan, and a young Gaby Hoffman. Oscar's, Emmy's, Tony's, Grammy's, Kennedy Center Honor. Awards, prestige, fame, Hollywood royalty, this film has it all. It has held up to time and is as loved today as it ever has been.
In the first inning, Jose Abreu rips a home run to left. In the third, Aaron Judge crushes a three run homer to right. Then, Eloy Jimenez follows with a three run bomb into the right field corn. And another hit by catcher Seby Zavala, a player I've never heard of and who is filling in for injured All Star Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal; called up to the big league only a month ago. Yankee Brett Gardner driving another into the corn in the sixth.Nowhere else on earth has anyone ever hit a MLB home run into the corn. I mean, what a moment this must be for these guys.
Lance Lynn, former St. Louis Cardinal cast off (I still haven't forgiven them for that) starts the game pitching for the White Sox. Giancarlo Stanton, hitter of prodigious blasts for the Yankess; Luke Voit, another former Cardinal and Springfield Missouri State University alum and Springfield Cardinal who landed in New York; Tony LaRussa, retired Cardinal Manager and Hall of Fame Manager who un-retired and took over the Sox this year; Aaron Boone, Yankee Manager and third generation MLB player; a home plate umpire who is a native Iowan; the game is filled with people who are relishing this moment in history, in their lives. Boone just relayed they are short on high tech abilities so are playing the game in a very real, old fashioned manner, unlike anything in the modern game. Announcers Joe Buck and Hall of Fame pitcher John Smolz, who gave up a home run to a 14 year old kid earlier in the day lead us in the game and add some amazing insights.
How cool is this game?
This is a memory to cherish
A memory I will keep forever. Baseball has become so tainted, so filled with things that are not something to treasure but this, this is something to treasure. The players are playing more than a game, they are playing out something from their childhood, much as they did when they imagined hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth in a World Series game.
I can only imagine how they must feel, on this field, in this location, This is honestly the most amazing game I can imagine ever taking place. Timeless, honest, fun. Players "Having a catch" with their children, with their fathers, brothers. Experiencing something they never believed could happen, even if they did make it to the big leagues.
Costner in the stands, watching you play. Broadcast across the world for millions of people to enjoy all at once. The moments shared with teammates, fans and the film itself, all combined into something never to be repeated even if they do play another game on the field again. This is unique in our life.
It's time for me to end this now and finish watching the game, Bill, I wish I was sitting beside you on those bleachers watching the game right now.
The Ending was...Unreal
Aaron Judge hits his second home run of the night, a two run shot to center that brought the Yankees to within a run. Two batters later, Giancarlo Stanton hits a two run shot of his own to put the Yankees in the lead in the top of the ninth, 8 to 7. Breathtaking.
In the bottom of the ninth, while no World Series, is still a place players dream about. Down by a run, time running out and a runner on base. Perfectly scripted for what follows. Tim Anderson, shortstop of the Chicago White Sox steps to the plate. He eases into the batters box and readies himself for the pitch. The first pitch he sees, he swings...
And drives the ball deep into the corn, a walk off home run at the Field of Dreams. How can it get any better than that? A perfect ending to a perfect game at the perfect field, the Field of Dreams.
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© 2021 Mr Archer
Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on August 13, 2021:
Bill, this would have been one to the moments to remember, buddy. Sitting in the stands, talking baseball with you, watching as each team took turns hitting home runs into the cornfield. And that ending was as much Hollywood as it was MLB. It felt like the end of The Natural!
Cheyenne, I wish you had watched it, because it was simply amazing. Surreal is a perfect description of that night for those blessed to attend.
Take care my friends, and stay safe.
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 13, 2021:
I saw that it was coming on last night, but didn't watch it. Now I wish I had. I didn't know it was a one time deal. Saw the movie and absolutely loved it.
Too cool that Costner was in the stands watching. I would imagine the entire game was the definition of surreal.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 13, 2021:
I got the text message, but I didn't know who it was from...but my one and only guess was you, and I was right!!!!! Too cool, the whole setting, the perfect confluence of events, past meeting present, it just couldn't get much better than that for those of us who love the game so much.
Well done, buddy! Thanks for thinking of me.