Field of Dreams is not only one of the best baseball movies ever made, it constantly turns up on lists of the best films of all time, a classic with messages many of us will never forget.
The city of Dyersville, Iowa, where the movie was shot, organized a 25th Anniversary Celebration. Stars of the film, baseball legends and other celebrities showed up for the event, but most of the 12,000-plus spectators were from the town and surrounding area. Many had actually served as extras in the film.
The festivities included a showing of the film on a screen erected in the outfield of the baseball diamond and a celebrity softball game. During the weekend, some of the personalities who attended spoke of how much the film still means to them, to baseball and to families everywhere.
Former Cy Young Award Winner Bret Saberhagen: “[The film] touches not just sports people. It’s everything that you can imagine. It was really cool this morning when I was going through the program and saw pictures of what it used to look like before they plowed it. I don’t know how they found this place, but it’s perfect.
“Growing up, I felt kind of like Moonlight Graham [Burt Lancaster’s character], saying I could do the best job I possibly can. It worked out for me, but for all the baseball fans that would love to put on a uniform, it’s such a great thrill to walk out on that field and play in a big league game. If I could give everybody a wish that just wanted to play for one inning like Moonlight Graham did, that would be something special for everyone to experience.
“It’s great to be here. It’s a great movie. I had tears in the eyes again last night. It’s great to experience one of the best baseball movies ever made.”
Timothy Busfield, who played Mark in the film: “Now, after 25 years, I realize it’s a sign of the success of the movie. The movie wasn’t just a movie around for a couple of years and did well at the box office and people liked it, but it didn’t have the timelessness, which they talk about in the movie when the little girl says, ‘they will come’ and James Earl Jones says, ‘people will come, people will come.’
“Then, last night, to see so many people watching . . . they came. It was built for the movie and they came. It is a bit magical.
“I think everybody read the script, but I think everybody thought if we did it right, we’d make a good movie. If everything fell into place, we’d make a good movie, but I don’t think anyone thought it would be 25 years later and we’d still be an iconic movie.
Colin Egglesfield, actor: “Last night was one of the coolest things ever. My dad, my brother and I were just sitting there watching this movie. Just that moment at the end, ‘Wanna have a catch?’ The three of us were [crying] waterworks.
“I grew up outside of Chicago and went to the University of Iowa. It’s great to be back here in the Midwest. Just being back here last night, I think it’s a true testament to what this film really means, and not just this film, but you guys [Busfield and Kevin Costner] are a good representation of the Midwest, and I think that’s why this movie really holds up.”
Bob Costas: “I remember James Earl Jones’s speech and Burt Lancaster’s Moonlight Graham. That little speech he delivers to Kevin in his personality as a doctor. You can see that, whether it’s Babe Ruth or Shoeless Joe Jackson, or someone who played a half-inning in the big leagues, they understand what the game can be and what the beauty of the game can be.
“Then, when he [Moonlight Graham] reappears here and revives Annie and Ray’s daughter and then walks back across the field, and Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson says, ‘you were good.’ It validates that he was a good ballplayer even though he only played a few minutes in the majors.”
Kevin Costner: “I do travel the world making movies, and movies do matter to people, but when it comes to movies made about America, Field of Dreams never fails to be on the list. Field of Dreams is really our generation’s It’s a Wonderful Life.
“My heart is fuller than you can ever imagine and it reminds me of the power of this film. Think about men who are trying to heal something. I think what made Field of Dreams so subversive were the women, who actually came to that movie and didn’t care about Gil Hodges and didn’t care about the men coming out of the corn.
“The thing that women got when they watched it with their men is they looked at it and said, ‘Go fix it. Call your dad, you fix the silly things. You reach out to your son and you fix the silly things that are keeping you apart.’
“And, that’s why I think Field of Dreams has lived on.”
Note: The film’s location in Dyersville, Iowa remains open to the public. You can even catch a game among the “Ghost players,” who come out of the cornfield every Sunday during the summer. For more information, visit the official webpage.