If you build it, they will come


W.P Kinsella once wrote the famous words, “If you build it, they will come.” Those words came true recently when the MLB hosted the Field of Dreams baseball game in a cornfield in Dyersville, Iowa, between the Boston White Sox and the New York Yankees. The competition took place in the exact location as the iconic movie Field of Dreams was filmed. Sadly, tickets for the once-in-a-lifetime game were only made available to the residence of Iowa. A lottery was held a while back for the lucky few who would get to fill those hollowed seats for the evening. Like in the movie, the two teams entered the game from the cornfield surrounding the stadium. Actor Kevin Costner led the teams out onto the field. Dwier Brown, who played Kevin Costner’s father in the film, was also part of the event. Mr. Costner later told the press it was a special night for him because he got to finally “have a catch” with his son Joe on the field. Joe was only one at the time of the movie’s filming. Over the weekend, it was announced there will be a 2022 Field of Dreams game, this time between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs!

Some might say that Mr. Kinsella’s words came true long ago when the filming location became a prominent tourist attraction. Nowadays, anyone wanting to visit Dyersville, IA, can tour the field as well as the home from the movie. Guests can stay the night in the Kinsella farmhouse and even rent out the baseball field for events. The baseball field is open to visitors from April to October, as well as weekends in November.

When W.P. Kinsella wrote Shoeless Joe, he wrote about actual players and true-life events. Like Moonlight Graham, who only played one game in the majors and never got the chance to bat. Archibald Graham played for the New York Giants in 1905. The field where that infamous game was played in Brooklyn, NY, has long ago been torn down and paved over. Archibald Graham became a doctor in 1906; he declined an invitation in 1905 to take part in the New York Giants spring training to continue his studies. After the one game in 1905, he returned to the minors, playing three more seasons before becoming a full-time doctor for the remainder of his days. He eventually took a job as a school doctor in 1912 in Chisholm, Minnesota, where he would be known simply as “Doc Graham.” He never talked about his days as a baseball player. Just like in the story, he did open his offices on the weekend to give children free eye exams and a set of glasses. He set up a program for used glasses to be refitted and distributed to underprivileged children. Doc Graham passed away in 1962, nearly two decades before Shoeless Joe was published in 1980; Field Dreams would not be filmed until 1988. He passed without ever knowing he would touch more than just his little town. The town of Chisholm now celebrates their hometown hero with a four-day annual event, Doc “Moonlight Graham” Days.

Writer W.P. Kinsella passed away in December 2016. His father John Matthew Kinsella did play for the minor leagues as a young man. Mr. Kinsella touched the heart of many with his story. Visitors to Baseball Hall Fame can see clips of Field of Dreams. Baseball fans can more learn about the players mentioned in the book such as Shoeless Joe Jackson through the Society for American Baseball Research at www.sabr.org