DYERSVILLE, IOWA — When you build something up in your mind for 15 years, experiencing it is often a letdown.
How can reality ever compete with a dream?
But unless Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones personally escorted me around the premises, I could NOT have had a better time than I did at the original movie site of “Field of Dreams” here in a sleepy little Iowa town Monday.
After a 2 1/2 hour flight to Chicago from New York, followed by a 4-plus hour drive from Chicago to Dyersville (seriously, I think we drove through every two-stoplight town in the world along the way), followed by us getting lost on the way to the field (seriously, the signs for this shrine are really, really subtle; As my father observed, “When you only have one tourist attraction in your town, shouldn’t you make the signs really big so people don’t miss it?), we arrived at this holy place, a site I’ve dreamed about for years.
And, well … it was exactly as I hoped it would be. There were 6-8 people playing on the field when we arrived, and through our 2-hour stay there was a steady stream of newcomers, so we always had 10-12 folks hitting, fielding and pitching.
Me? I did everything I dreamed of doing there. I got to hit baseballs and run the bases. I pitched a little, to kids and to grownups. I made a few plays at third base, and even caught a few fly balls.
Of course, I walked into and out of the cornfields. Man, there is a TON of corn on this farm. I bought all kinds of stuff at the souvenir stand.
One highlight had to be the play where my father, playing first base in our little pickup game, tried to catch the throw from shortstop while simultaneously filming the play in his non-glove hand. Take a guess whether he caught it or not.
We also re-enacted a few of the famous scenes from the movie, which amused us greatly but drew some strange looks from a few kids nearby.
It was a magical day, one I’ll remember as long as I live. For everyone I met Monday, this was different than anywhere they’d been. If “Field of Dreams” touched your soul, coming to this place meant a lot.
Toward the end of our stay, I was playing catcher while a new visitor stepped up the plate. He was a 20ish guy, looked like an athlete, wearing a black T-shirt. He strode to the plate, looked around, and smiled widely.
“Finally, I’m actually here,” he muttered.
Exactly. What a fantastic, emotionally-fulfilling visit.
**Some other musings from a really long day, spent mostly in airplanes and cars:
— Do you have any idea how expensive the fines have gotten for tampering with airplane bathroom smoke detectors? I remember a few years ago it was like, 100 bucks, or maybe $250. Today when I went to the lavatory I saw the fine was $1,200! I mean, how bad do you really want to smoke, is what they’re basically asking you with that fine.
I really want to be on a flight where a guy writes a check for $1,200, then breaks out a pack of Marlboro Reds and says, “Here’s your damn money, I’m having a smoke.”
— Real subtle billboard I saw today while we drove through Illinois: “Abortion: You know in your heart it’s wrong.” Actually, I know that men making decisions on what women are allowed to do with their own body is wrong. But I guess that won’t fit on a billboard.
**Had a fantastic dinner tonight at the Country Junction in Dyersville. It’s one of those places where everything on the menu is fried, grilled and probably sopped in butter. Mmmmmm. Sure you can only eat there once a year and still live, but man was it good.