Click on the headline or photo below to read an essay that speaks to three things I’m passionate about: baseball, Dubuque County and “Field of Dreams.”
DUBUQUE COUNTY IS THE PERFECT SPOT FOR FIELD OF DREAMS
by James Kramer
The images, sounds and themes of “Field of Dreams” are never far from my mind. The film and the field have had a stranglehold on my soul since the movie was released in 1989.
W.P. Kinsella’s recent death brought back all the emotions I have about the film and its meaning. This week marks six years since my dad’s death, so naturally I’ve been thinking about the final scene when Ray and his father have a catch.
I grew up in Farley, a tiny Dubuque County town located just a few miles from the Field of Dreams in Dyersville. They filmed the school-board meeting in the gymnasium of my elementary school.
Dad and I saw the movie shortly after it was released, and I was instantly mesmerized by the magic of the story. I was at a very impressionable age (12 or so), so I was hooked for life. My poor dad had to drive me to the FoD so many times to practice groundballs or pitching off the mound.
I’ve seen the movie upward of 100 times. I used to cry during the climactic final scene; now I cry for practically all 107 minutes. “Why are you sad?” my 8-year-old daughter asks. Answer: I feel a deep-seated connection to the field, the film and fathers.
I’ve always felt that the filmmakers chose the perfect location to shoot the movie inspired by Kinsella’s book “Shoeless Joe.” The fact is, Dubuque County is an absolute hotbed for baseball tradition.
–The area has a long, rich history of town-team ball (frequently called “semi-pro ball” in Dubuque County). Most teams play 50+ games every year, and the competition is fierce.
–Every little town has an 8- or 16-team tournament during the summer. Some of those tournaments have been in business for 50 or 60 years. Dyersville used to routinely draw 5,000 spectators to Queen’s Night, and gave away a car.
–Most of the towns have immaculate ball diamonds. Farley’s baseball facility is spectacular almost beyond belief.
–When I was a kid, everyone I knew was a baseball nut. It’s just what we did. Dubuque County’s most revered institutions were the Catholic Church, JFK and baseball (not necessarily in that order).
–The best high school baseball rivalry in the state, hands down, is Dyersville Beckman vs. Cascade. It’s Yankees-Red Sox of the Hawkeye State.
–When the makers of “Field of Dreams” needed talented players to portray the ghosts, they found an abundance of longtime semi-pro players in the county. Some of those ghosts are Dubuque County Baseball Hall of Famers and former minor-leaguers. They didn’t have to “act” like ballplayers.
So it’s only fitting that “Field of Dreams,” arguably the best baseball movie ever made, was filmed in my baseball-crazy home county. The good folks who live there have done a wonderful job nurturing the field and its legacy.
It pleases me to no end that my daughter loves baseball/softball and the film as much as I do. She doesn’t understand why Dad cries the whole movie, but I suspect someday she will.