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Major League Baseball goes to the movies next year with a game at Iowa’s Field of Dreams

Real players will walk out of the corn and take their positions, just like the book

Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1989 fantasy Field of Dreams
Ray Liotta as Joe Jackson in 1989’s Field of Dreams.
Universal Pictures

Major League Baseball’s Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees will play a regular season game in Dyersville, Iowa, next year.

That’s the Field of Dreams field, folks, the one from the 1989 film by the same name, adapted from W.P. Kinsella’s 1982 novel Shoeless Joe. Thirty years after the movie, the site has remained as a tourist attraction, concert location, and pop culture bucket list destination, and MLB is gonna play a game there. It’ll count in the standings.

Even if you aren’t a sports fan, you probably have heard “if you build it, he will come,” and know the line as a piece of Americana. In the story, Ray Kinsella, an old campus hippie who thinks he can run a farm, starts hearing voices in the middle of the night. He plows under this year’s crop and creates a baseball diamond, and a lineup full of sun-cracked bubblegum cards walks out of the corn and resumes playing the game.

Well, next year at this time, that’s gonna be the very corporeal, very alive Aaron Judge. How cool is it to be him right now?

The White Sox have to be one of the teams here because, of course, Shoeless Joe Jackson was the left fielder for the 1919 White Sox. He and seven other players participated in or had guilty knowledge of the fixed World Series that year, and were banned from baseball for life, a damnatio memoriae that only added to their mythical figurehood. This is an official, if oblique, acknowledgment of Shoeless Joe’s legend by MLB, a century after it drummed him out.

But the Yankees are also a very apt choice because, if you remember, in Field of Dreams’ five-hankie finale, where the catcher of this ethereal all-star team is revealed to be Ray’s dad as a young man, he is in the uniform of the 1912 New York Yankees. So, whoever came up with this promotional stunt was actually doing their homework.

Field of Dreams is a nakedly emotionally manipulative film, and I will fall for it every time. Two movie tough guys, Ray Liotta and Burt Lancaster (in his final film role), give twinkle-eyed performances as Shoeless Joe Jackson and Archibald Moonlight Graham. Thirtysomething’s Timothy Busfield plays Ray’s skeptical asshole brother-in-law, but most importantly, James Earl Jones hauls off with one of the greatest soliloquies of the 20th century, as only he could.

Aug. 13, 2020. People will come, Ray. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it, for it is money they have, and peace they lack.

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