I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I just got finished watching Field of Dreams for the first time. I realize for a girl who watches over 200 baseball games a season, regularly checks baseball stats, reads baseball literature in the off season, and has a slight obsession with baseball history, that the fact I'm just now watching this movie is beyond shameful. I have no excuse, so I'll offer none, but I do apologize profusely to the baseball gods.
I've seen lots of baseball movies. In fact, there are very very few that I haven't seen. I can't think of one that is better than this one. Your first reaction may be a clanging duh, but in an online poll taken during the Sox/Astros game, Field of Dreams was slaughtered by Major League! Believe me...I was as shocked as you! But this movie...
At the heart of this movie was all things great about the game. There was the magic of the game that only those who want to feel and see are able to experience. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer who are wanting to feel baseball's magic these days. There is the history -- the minute history of the game. The black sox are allowed to play again and are captained by Shoeless Joe.* Those who didn't last in the majors were called up again. And a son was able to play catch with his dad. What isn't there to love about that? I realize that Ray had no idea who was coming to play on his field when he built it, but I can tell you that if I knew that I was spending every single penny I had building a baseball field where I would get to play catch with my dad again...I'd do it in a heartbeat without even remotely thinking twice. And I'd ignore your scoffs while doing it.
Of course, there can't be a movie that delves into the history of baseball that doesn't involve Fenway, despite the fact that not one Red Sox player played on Ray's field. I was blown away by how much Fenway has changed! Seeing the changes little by little, year by year, it doesn't seem that different. But to look at what it looked like in 1988 totally blew my mind. There were, of course, no seats on the Monster, but the Monster was also missing it's Billboards (which may have been due to production, copywrite laws and finances or maybe not), but the most obvious was the missing Jimmy Fund kid. It also blew my mind that Ray was able to show up in Boston and get two tickets to that night's game without having to mortgage his house (which is good cause he was about to lose his house) or sleep on the concrete.
And how many wives would support their husbands through something like that? I'd like to believe more than we would think. Look at how many wives support their husbands who are away from home from February until September at the earliest, and if they're lucky October for the love of the game (or more probably for their husbands' love of the game). Before you throw the money signs in their eyes cop out to me, let me remind you that minor leaguers are paid peanuts, and their wives make the same sacrifices.
This movie covered it all, and it did it without crossing over into cheesy. I decided to share with you some of my favorite quotations from the movie. So, here goes:
"Don't we need a catcher? Not if you get it near the plate we don't."
"Hey -- is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa."
"Is Fenway the one with the big green wall in left field?"
"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like a army of steamrollers; it's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again."
This movie reminds us of all that once was good and can be again. It reminds us of the good in baseball without focusing on what is wrong with the game. It's been awhile since sport fans have been reminded of the good in the game, and baseball has sufferred for it. But Field of Dreams brings baseball fans back to the point where we realize that the game, baseball, our game "once was good and it could be again."
If it's been awhile since you've seen it, go back for a second portion. If, like me, you haven't seen it before, watch it! Grab your glove, sit back and watch this movie (another upside is that with some hand work or a little oil you can have your glove broken in by the end of the show). Then go out and play catch with someone you love.
*I'll spare you a speech here about who should (ahmm...steinbrenner) and should not be baned from baseball and who should and should not be allowed into Cooperstown (a separate entity completely from Major League Baseball which for some reason upholds the bans given out by MLB), but I will say that anybody willing to look at the stats of that World Series can tell you Shoeless Joe in no way contributed to throwing those games. He did quite the opposite. His stats for the series were amazing!