There was an MLB game played in a cornfield last night. They played the game in Iowa. We know Iowa for its agriculture. A cornfield in Iowa isn’t out of place. Major League Baseball in Iowa is.
The game was between the American League Central division-leading Chicago White Sox and the legendary New York Yankees. People that attended the game drove to a town in Iowa called Dyersville. Attendees parked in a gravel lot and got to walk through a corn maze to get to the field. Once there, there was a temporary baseball field that was constructed especially for the game.
Why go to all this effort? What’s all the fuss about? Why did Major League Baseball have two of their franchises transport their collective multi-millionaire players to the middle of the Midwest to play a single game?
Now, I’m not one to make fun of nostalgia. MLB Field of Dreams is just that.
I’ve got old records. My movie collection comprises films that were released decades ago. Some of my most viewed posts on YouTube are old television shows from a time that is way beyond my past. I like old stuff.
But there was just something weird about what transpired during the pre-game festivities last night. Now, follow me here because I’ll try to explain it.
The movie is about an Iowa corn farmer who one day hears a voice tell him to clear out a portion of his cornfield large enough to build a baseball park. “If you build it, he will come.” the voice says. After the farmer clears the field, he hears the doubts of his family and then questions his sanity.
But, soon after, the ghost of an old ballplayer crops up from the corn to speak with the farmer. Then more ghosts show up and they play baseball. At last, the ghost of the farmer’s father emerges and they have one last game of catch. It’s a touching ending, right? The ending is a real sentimental tearjerker. Who doesn’t want to have one last moment with a loved one?
Okay, here’s where it gets weird. Most of the players and many in the crowd weren’t around 32 years ago. There were moments last night when it showed. Kevin Costner walked out of the cornfield onto the outfield grass, aimlessly looking around like a fellow that had forgotten where he parked his car. The crowd was mostly silent except for a smattering of applause from members that may have remembered the movie.
Players from the ball clubs then started from the cornfield.
As they walked in, most of them headed directly to their respective dugouts, waving to fans that suddenly checked in and cheered like they finally figured out what was going on. A small group of players acknowledged Costner, but not as many as a Hollywood star would’ve liked or thought he should’ve deserved. He starred in the movie based on this event 32 years ago!
When the players lined up for introductions, most had looks on their faces that said they were more annoyed by being there than thrilled that they were taking part in something special. Most of the looks I saw said they’d rather be in Chicago to play the regularly scheduled game. That way, they could go get something to eat at a fancy Chicago steakhouse instead of jumping on the bus to catch a late charter flight. Players are creatures of structure and habit. There’s nothing about playing a meaningful one-night game at a remote site that is routine.
I understand that Major League Baseball was trying to create a unique experience that would attract viewers. But they could have put on a Field Of Dreams game a couple of years after the movie. It would’ve had a bigger impact. The idea would’ve been fresh in the collective minds of fans. The players might’ve been more enthusiastic about it. Major League Baseball always seems to blunder when it tries to be innovative. They goof up when trying to make it show business.
The game turned out to be great! It was close in the 8th, and then two Yankees home runs put them in the lead. In the bottom of the 9th, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, the heart and soul of the team, hit a two-run walk-off home run to win it for the home team. Despite Major League Baseball’s best efforts, the game itself turned out to be an exciting success.