It’s probably not surprising that I am an unabashed fan of sports movies, and “Field of Dreams” is one of my favorite movies.
But what we saw Major League Baseball do last week with the “Field of Dreams” nationally-televised game went beyond fandom for me. It went beyond being a simple sports spectacle.
It was much more than all of that. It was truly magical — a feeling of mystical enchantment so needed in the tough days our nation continues seeing and experiencing.
For a brief few hours, baseball enthusiasts were whisked away from the world of COVID-19 and partisan politics. Many of us were magically transported back to our childhoods, where hot dogs, baseball and apple pie were the only things that truly mattered in the summertime.
There’s a line in the movie spoken by narrator Terrance Mann as he spoke to lead character Ray Kinsella that explains what last week’s spectacle and game itself meant to many of us — “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 was once good, and what could be good again.”
And that’s exactly what last week’s game did.
Think about last summer, when we finally got sports back — baseball back — even for a shortened season. Even as the pandemic still surrounded and frustrated us all, baseball provided a brief escape, a release from the stress of trying to deal with everything going on around us.
Remember the magic of seeing cardboard cutouts of fans sitting in the stands, with piped in cheers urging players on? It was strange … different … but it was still … fun. It was still that brief escape we all needed.
Listening to actor Kevin Costner walk out of the corn last week to address the crowd before the game’s start was breathtaking. And watching the White Sox and Yankees walk out of the corn to take the field was the thing goosebumps are made of. I don’t think I will ever forget the chill seeing that sent surfing up and down my spine.
And then there was the game itself. Like a scripted movie, the teams waged a back-and-forth battle that wasn’t decided until Chicago’s final at bat as the White Sox edged the Yankees 9-8.
The “Field of Dreams” movie was based on the W.P. Kinsella book “Shoeless Joe,” a reference to “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of the players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox banned from baseball after being accused of throwing the World Series.
“Field of Dreams” might be best know for the phrase, “If you build it, he will come.” It’s movie about connection. In this case, the connection between a son and his long-deceased father brought about by their shared love of baseball.
Near the end of the movie Coster’s Ray Kinsella asks his father, “Hey Dad, want to have a catch?” and the pair play a game of pitch of catch. Hearing Costner utter those words makes my throat tighten every time.
Seeing last week’s “Field of Dreams” game caught me right in the heart. It made me catch my breath.
And it reminded me that what was once good just maybe can be good again.