Why a Real ‘Field of Dreams’ Baseball Game is the Best Sports Idea in a Long Time

“If you build it, they will come.”

That’s no longer just an iconic movie line, but a soon to be reality. Major League Baseball announced this week that the New York Yankees will meet the Chicago White Sox on the Field of Dreams — the baseball diamond in Iowa where the 1989 movie was shot. 

And this isn’t just a special exhibition game — it’s a regulation game that will count. It will be the first Major League Baseball game ever played in Iowa, and the “home” team will be the White Sox, who have an association with the movie. 

When does the Field of Dreams game take place?

The game is scheduled for August 13, 2020. One of the reasons the game is so far off is that it’s not being played on the original Field of Dreams site, according to The Wrap. A temporary 8,000-seat facility will be constructed next to the actual Field of Dreams, with a pathway connecting the two. The right-field wall will have a window so spectators can see the cornfields. 

“As a sport that is proud of its history linking generations, Major League Baseball is excited to bring a regular-season game to the site of ‘Field of Dreams’,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said on the official MLB site. “We look forward to celebrating the movie’s enduring message of how baseball brings people together at this special cornfield in Iowa.”

Why have a game on the Field of Dreams?

Though it has not been explicitly stated as such, organizers no doubt hope that the event will help boost interest in baseball. For decades it’s been called the “national pastime” or the “national game,” but in recent years, football has eclipsed baseball in popularity, largely because of TV viewership numbers. “Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa.” 

The 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner was based on a novel by WP Kinsella called Shoeless Joe. That name references Joe Jackson, a Chicago White Sox player who was believed to have participated in throwing the 1919 World Series between the White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. The scandal disillusioned fans and tarnished the sport. That’s why it’s fitting the White Sox will play in next year’s game. 

In the movie, farmer Ray Kinsella (Costner) hears a disembodied voice saying the famous line, “If you build it, he will come.” He answers this call by building a baseball diamond in his cornfield, much to the chagrin of his family and the locals. Once the field is complete, ghostly figures emerge from the cornfields and begin to play ball there, one of them being Shoeless Joe, portrayed by Ray Liotta. However, the “he” referred to by the voice remains mysterious. 

The movie, directed by Phil Alden Robinson and featuring Burt Lancaster in his last role, scored a Best Picture Oscar nomination and became one of the most beloved of all baseball movies and is part of the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. 

What about the real field? 

The field made for the movie is in Dubuque County, Iowa near Dyersville. The field straddled two different farms, the owners of which each operated souvenir stands. In 1990, another farmer held a game on the field with a team called the “Ghost Players.” This kicked off a series of games that attracted thousands of people as the field became a tourist destination. It now draws up to 100,000 visitors a year.

Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the Chicago White Sox, said in a statement. “The filmmakers tell a beautiful story that resonates to this day. It is an incredible honor for the White Sox franchise to be the home team against the Yankees in a special setting that will capture everyone’s imagination just like the movie does.”

The Yankees organization is proud to participate in such a unique celebration of baseball,” Hal Steinbrenner, managing general partner of the New York Yankees, added. “‘Field of Dreams captures the pure essence of baseball, and it continues to bring generations of fans — and families — together to embrace its timeless roots.’