People will come (part I)

Welcome back, KevinOn Friday night, I watched Field of Dreams in the actual Field of Dreams. The story’s too long for a one-day telling. This is just Part I.

The sign outside the video store welcomed Dyersville, Iowa’s favorite adopted son: “Welcome back to heaven, Kevin Costner!”

My co-worker, Kelly, and I passed the sign after determining that the satellite parking lot at the Dyersville high school was at capacity. “They opened up another field for parking out at the Field of Dreams,” the parking attendant told us. “Do you know how to get out there?”

We knew. But we asked for a refresher set of directions anyway, because it had been awhile since Kelly and I had been to Dyersville, the site of the filming of 1989’s Field of Dreams.

We came to see the movie in the field itself, thanks to Netflix and its Rolling Roadshow of movies shown at their original filming locations across the country. From a Martha’s Vineyard showing of Jaws to Escape from Alcatraz in San Francisco, Netflix had movie memories covered.

Road show scheduleAccording to the organizers, this was the first time Field of Dreams had been screened at the eponymous baseball diamond. Be there? No doubt about it.

I have a long history with the movie that stretches back to seeing it in the theater when it first came out. It’s the movie that, for me, most embodies the sentimentality and near-religion of baseball and the father-child relationship. I cry at the same places every single time I watch it. I’d be embarrassed, but hey, I’m not ashamed to admit I love my Dad and the National Pastime.

But this event promised more than just a screening of the movie. Kevin Costner, a.k.a. Ray Kinsella, The Man Himself was bringing his newly-formed band and coming to play and sing as the opening act for this extravaganza. I’d like to be kidding about this.

Field of movieKelly and I wound through the cornfields at the edge of Dyersville, finally hitting a traffic jam just before the Field of Dreams’ driveway. We rolled down the window. Kevin’s voice drifted in.

“He’s awful,” I said, as he rhymed “industrial park” with “question mark.”

“Do you think he could try any harder to be John Mellencamp?” Kelly asked.

We drove on, heading toward the mythical Field of Parking, which appeared about a mile down the road. This was the point at which I became most sorry that I had worn girlie shoes.

We parked, took requisite pictures of a monster truck, large Harley and sign declaring “Not responsible for any accidents,” and headed past the long line of people waiting for the shuttle to the field toward the open, gravel road.

Girlie shoes, people. Girlie shoes. And we were skipping the line for the shuttle. Some days I’m smart, other days, not so much.

Less than a tenth of a mile into the Sandal Death March, a woman pulled over next to us in a beat-up Plymouth K Car. “You girls need a ride to the Field?” she yelled.

We peered in at her baby strapped into a carseat in the back. I looked down at my shoes. “Absolutely,” I hollered. “Thank you!”

As we rolled down the dusty road past lines of people walking with camp chairs, the woman said she was from Dyersville. “Everyone’s from out of town,” she said. “No one from Dyersville’s going to this.”

But then we passed another group of pilgrims. “Oh, there’s someone from Dyersville,” she said. “And there’s someone else.”

Don't cross that lineShe dropped us off at the field, where we stopped to take pictures of the strange divide. For those of you who aren’t versed in the Field Feud, here’s the summary version: one property owner owns the house, the bleachers where Ray and Annie and Karen watched the ghost games, and right field and the infield. The other property owner owned Left and Center Field, which is now owned by an international conglomerate and the more commercial stepchild of the operation.

This event, folks, was on Left and Center Field. Like I said. More commercial.

Which meant that, by the time we arrived, there was a rope line up dividing the field in two, with everyone sitting on the Left and Center side. On the other side of the rope, things were idyllic, quiet, spacious. On the Left and Center side, it was a friggin’ madhouse.

Tomorrow…Part II

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