Kevin Costner starred in “Bull Durham,” a 1988 film that most think is among the top baseball movies of all time. Right after it was released, Costner did the questionable thing of signing on to star in the 1989 film, “Field of Dreams,” what he called a “little film in Iowa” that used baseball as its backdrop. Actors try to avoid repetitive common themes in their films for fear that they will become pigeon-holed into that genre. However, “Field of Dreams” is not a baseball movie. It is about tradition and family; it is about dreaming and fantasizing; it is about fathers and sons.
Many of my memories include baseball as its setting. I remember “playing catch” with my father and brother during the first days that the freeze of winter thawed into the promise of Spring and then decades later, repeating the same with my son. I remember seeing Sandy Koufax pitch in person at Shea Stadium in New York, and talking with my father about the art of pitching. I recall arriving with my dad early at games so that we could watch batting practice and hear the incomparable sound that a wooden bat makes when a baseball hits its sweet spot. I remember seeing legends play, like Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Nolan Ryan. I remember taking my own son to his first baseball game and, some years later, standing arm-in-arm with him in the late hours of November 4, 2001 at what was then Bank One Ballpark singing “We Are The Champions.” Of all these memories (with the exception of game 7 of the 2001 World Series), I do not necessarily remember who won or the final season standings. Yet the memories are cherished. Baseball does that for us.
“Field of Dreams” was released 25 years ago and is now among the top of most people’s all-time “must-see” lists. If you haven’t seen it in some time, pull out the old VCR or grab a DVD version and watch it again. If you have never seen it, sit back and enjoy. After you do so, invite your father or your child to attend a D-Back game before the summer is over. Buy a couple of hot dogs and share a bag of peanuts. See guys like Paul Goldschmidt develop into perhaps one of the greats of all time. Check out Josh Collmenter, who’s heart out-measures his God-given talents. See what it looks like when a group of guys that include the likes of Montero and Parra, who seemingly have nothing to play for, continue to leave it all out on the field. Watch a game that has not changed in its basics for well over 100 years. If you are a father, watch how your child observes the game. If you are the child, listen to your dad’s stories of days gone by and take note of not just the story, but the way the memories have lived on in your dad. Consider the countless number of times that parents and children have partaken in this same ritual over the generations. Create some new memories.
I know the D-Backs are not going to win a championship this year or, perhaps, in the foreseeable seasons to come. But that is not the majesty of baseball. The game has as much to offer as it would if the D-Backs’ record was 11.5 games better than what presently exists and they were battling the Giants for first place in the Division.
I will close by the words spoken in “Field of Dreams” by James Earl Jones during an amazing monologue in the film: The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.