Thirty years later, and there’s still something magical about stepping on the baseball diamond at the Field of Dreams movie site.
It goes beyond the fact one of the more iconic baseball films took place in Dubuque County’s backyard. Or the number of A-list movie stars who called it home for one summer.
Like the thousands of visitors who make a pilgrimage to the Field of Dreams each year, I still get goosebumps every time I see the diamond off in the distance or feel the gravel under my feet as I walk through the parking lot toward the field. And, like a line from late in the movie, I don’t exactly know why.
While I only visit the Field of Dreams once every few years or so, I’ve never gotten numb to that special feeling I can’t quite explain. It feels the same every single time.
I know there are movie critics out there who consider the storyline for Field of Dreams kind of far-fetched, and maybe they’re right. But, at the same time, I kind of feel sorry for them for not seeing what I see or feeling what I feel.
Thankfully, the stewards of the game still get it.
Major League Baseball on Thursday morning announced plans to build a temporary 8,000-seat stadium adjacent to the Field of Dreams to host a game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees next August. And, most importantly, they’ll preserve the integrity of the original diamond in the process.
The stadium, which will be patterned after historic Comiskey Park in Chicago, will be located adjacent to the Field of Dreams, and fans will access it from a path in the cornfield that begins in left-center field of the movie site and connects to an area just beyond the right field fence in the stadium.
This isn’t the first time MLB has constructed a stadium for a special theme or one-time use. The Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins played at Fort Bragg, N.C., on July 3, 2016, as a tribute to the country’s military. It was the first regular-season professional sporting event on an active military base, and the 12,582 tickets were intended for military members.
Neither of those teams were especially good that season, but baseball fans tuned in, nonetheless, to see something different. The unique factor also explains why the NHL’s Winter Classic on New Year’s Day routinely draws ratings comparable to considerably more important Stanley Cup Playoff games.
The Fort Bragg Game couldn’t have been a bigger success for Major League Baseball, and kudos for commissioner Rob Manfred for thinking outside the box in an effort to connect all levels of the game to its highest level.
That event certainly opened the door for similar regular-season events, including the annual Little League Classic at a minor league stadium in Williamsport, Penn.; a game this June between the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers in Omaha, Neb., to kick off the College World Series; and, next August, the Field of Dreams Game.
Major League Baseball has been thinking outside the box for more than two decades. Since 1996, more than two dozen regular-season games have taken place outside the United States and Canada in such locales as Mexico, Tokyo, Sydney and, most recently, a two-game set between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox in London. The United States’ commonwealth of Puerto Rico has hosted 49 regular-season games since 2001.
In moving those games outside of traditional settings, the stewards of the game have put a new twist on the familiar phrase, “If you build it, he will come.” Instead, Major League Baseball has committed to the idea of, “We will bring it to you, and build it, too.”
Hopefully, that means more baseball fans will be introduced to the goosebumps so many of us feel — but can’t quite explain — when we visit the Field of Dreams.