‘Field of Dreams’: ‘Hey, Dad, You Wanna Have a Catch?’

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Hey, who’s been slicing onions? Because just by typing that headline I got misty-eyed. I’m referring, of course, to the touching scene in the 1989 film, Field of Dreams.

[If you’ve somehow never seen the film, this story includes numerous Spoilers. Do yourself a favor, scroll down, and order the film.]

The movie stars Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, who hears a mysterious voice while walking one evening through his Iowa cornfield. “If you build it, he will come,” it whispers. And not unlike the obsession that Richard Dreyfuss’ character has in 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, “Ray” persuades his skeptical wife, Annie (played by Amy Madigan), to allow him to build a full baseball field, complete with bleachers and lights, on their expansive property. His neighbors think he’s nuts. “He’s going to lose his farm,” says one. “Damned fool,” says another.

As he’s plowing the cornfields, Ray tells their young daughter about “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and the infamous Chicago “Black” Sox, who threw the 1919 World Series. “Dad used to say ‘Nobody could hit like “Shoeless Joe,”‘ he says to his wife one evening.

As they gaze out at the new field, Ray says, “I’ve just created something totally illogical. Am I completely nuts?”

Mysteries abound as the couple share an identical dream which leads Ray to go to Boston and track down an author named Terence Mann (James Early Jones). After a comical scene where Mann thinks Ray is an intruder, the pair go to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Ray again hears the mysterious voice, though this time it says: “Go the distance.” On the scoreboard, he – and only he – sees the lifetime statistics of a ballplayer named Archibald “Moonlight” Graham: 1 Game, 0 At Bats.

Ray and Mann head to Minnesota to look up Graham, only to discover that he had died years earlier. Ray encounters a bit of time travel – hey, it’s a wise move if you haven’t suspended your disbelief yet – and meets Graham, played by Burt Lancaster, in what would be his final role.

He’s now a medical doctor and Ray asks him what happened in that one game he played in.

“We just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives, while they’re happening,” says Graham, in a beautiful speech. “Back then, I thought, well, there’ll be other days. I didn’t realize that was the only day.”

On his way home, in present time, Ray picks up a hitchhiker named… Archie Graham, who says he hopes one day to be a professional ballplayer. Once home, Ray’s companion melds right in with a group of baseball players of an earlier era, dressed in flannel uniforms, who mysteriously arrive through the cornfields at the perimeter of the outfield. One of them is “Shoeless Joe” (played by Ray Liotta).

Only Ray, his wife and daughter, and Mann, who has also arrived, can see them. Meanwhile, his skeptical brother-in-law serves him with financial papers that warn of an impending foreclosure.

Ray tells Mann how he and his father, a promising ballplayer himself, had become estranged when Ray was a teenager. His father is dead and Ray has regretted their rift.

Mann: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.” What a speech.

There’s an accident and young Archie recognizes that he has the medical skills that are needed. His job complete, Graham prepares to leave. Serious tissues needed around now.

Mann exits the same way Graham had. The only ones remaining on the field are Ray, his family and “Shoeless Joe.” Or so Ray thinks. Ray can’t figure out why Joe is smiling. “If you build it… he will come,” Joe says, motioning towards a lone player still on the field, that Ray hadn’t noticed before.

“Hey, Dad… You wanna have a catch?”

Field of Dreams was released on April 21, 1989. It earned a reported $84 million at the worldwide box-office. Its $64 million in the U.S. made it the year’s 19th biggest title.

One year later, Liotta starred in a Scorsese favorite. Costner was born January 18, 1955. He earned two Academy Awards for 1991’s Dances With Wolves. James Earl Jones was born January 17, 1931. Though he did not win a competitive Academy Award, he is a member of the famed EGOT club, as a two-time Tony and Emmy winner, a Grammy Award for a spoken word album, and an honorary Oscar.

Lancaster, born November 2, 1913, was a four-time Academy Award nominee for Best Actor, winning one. He died on October 20, 1994 at age 80.

Fast forward to the Major League Baseball’s 2020 season. The New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox will play the first official regular season game in Iowa, on August 13 at the actual Field of Dreams park, which was built for the film in Dyersville.

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Greg Brodsky

Best Classic Bands Founder/CEO Greg Brodsky earned his first professional bylines as a reporter for the music trade weekly Record World. He still has all his vinyl albums and enjoys going to flea markets and garage sales to grow his collection.
Greg Brodsky
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  1. v2787
    #1 v2787 31 October, 2019, 09:41

    This movie gets me every time. I choke up when Costner asks, “You wanta have a catch?” OMG–that was the only thing my father and I were ever able to do together without fighting or arguing. We never really had a good relationship. However, we could always play catch, probably because we didn’t have to talk to each other while doing it, and to this day it’s all I think about when this movie is on. My dad died in 1990, but it would mean the world to me if we could play catch just one more time. Field of Dreams is in my top 3 films of all time just because it does what art is supposed to do: it makes me feel.

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