DYERSVILLE, Iowa — The famous field carved into the corn of Dyersville, Iowa may not be heaven, but for 32 years its beckoned baseball fans to America’s heartland for their own piece of paradise.
“It’s just mesmerizing. It’s really cool,” Michael Bowers, who was visiting the Field of Dreams from Janesville, Wisconsin with his brother Daniel, said.
Built for the 1989 Best Picture nominee, the Field of Dreams Movie Site sits frozen in time — an endless bounty for baseball lovers. Fathers and sons can have a catch, and folks snap photos of the outfield crop half expecting Shoeless Joe Jackson to wander out.
Just 1,000 feet away, baseball will be played again on these magic acres — only instead of the ghosts of White Sox past, it’s the heroes of the modern-day team.
“It should be fun, I had the opportunity to play the Williamsport [Little League Classic] game, so I have a little experience with how it goes,” White Sox All-Star pitcher Lance Lynn said. “Some of the guys have asked, ‘how is this going to go?’ I was like, just go with the flow.”
“I’m more excited for walk in because I’m a child and want to do bazingas all through the corn field,” Sox All-Star pitcher Liam Hendriks said. “I really, really, really hope Ray Liotta pops in, I think that’ll be really fun. We need to put that into the universe. Let’s get a Kevin [Costner] and Ray out there, let’s make it happen.”
The MLB at Field of Dreams game has been years in the making.
“It’s been so exciting since we broke ground in August of 2019, actually before that coming out in 2015 to see where the sight could be played,” Murray Cook, president of Bright View SportsTurf, the official consultants for Major League Baseball fields and operations, said.
Cook has helped erect ballparks in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Little League Classic and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for MLB’s first game on an active military base. He said construction on the Field of Dreams ballpark adjacent to the film’s field began in the spring of 2020, requiring crews to move 30,000 cubic yards of soil to create a level playing surface.
But before the White Sox and Cardinals could take the field, Major League Baseball postponed the game because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We were about eight days out from game actually playing, so we were at this point and beyond we had everything up,” Cook said. “It’s disappointing, but we are more excited to come back this year and do it.”
The original matchup of White Sox versus Yankees is back on for Aug. 12 with the temporary bleachers nearly ready to host 8,000 spectators.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve been out here, 50 times over the last few years. I get goosebumps every time I walk out here,” Cook said.
Entering the new ballpark will feel like a dream. Fans will walk through stalks of corn on a pathway that begins in centerfield of the movie set and winds around the outfield of the new park until the thrills of the grass hit them just like Shoeless Joe describes in the film.
“You are not going to see the field until you enter the park because the corn is so high,” Cook said, pointing out the corn will grow to 10-feet tall by mid-August.
A 7-foot-high chain-link fence separates field from farmland, while leaving a clear view of the outfield oasis.
“From [the outfield warning track], obviously players can see [the fence], but from the stands pretty much all you’re going to see is the corn,” Cook said.
Four hundred feet to dead center features both bullpens, a nod to the design of old Comiskey Park.
“There’s an opening [in front of the bullpen] for players to sit next to the fence to watch the game as well as sit on this little stoop back here next to the corn if they want,” Cook described of the bullpen layout.
As the corn continues to grow, so does the anticipation, harvesting dreams into reality for baseball fans across the land.
“I think it’s going to be magical,” Cook said of the game. “It’s going to be a cool experience for a lot of folks.”