If Thursday night’s Field of Dreams encore in Dyersville, Iowa, turns out to be the last played at the iconic movie site, Major League Baseball will have wasted a golden opportunity to highlight its most prized asset: its natural bond. with families.
The game, first played last August, saw its second iteration when the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 4-2. But the idea that there might not be a third iteration of Field of Dreams is more than plausible. Construction at the site will prevent a 2023 version of the game, and MLB officials have not committed to returning to corn in 2024 or anytime beyond.
Leaving Dyersville and the Field of Dreams would be a major tactical mistake for MLB
The event provides an annual opportunity to remind fans — and especially the more casual — why the 1980s film resonated with so many.
This reason? He used baseball to encapsulate the core American virtues of family ties that resonate both powerfully and naturally in society at large.
Baseball is unique in its position to highlight this encapsulation. “Hey daddy, do you want to get a hold,” isn’t just a movie line. Rather, it’s the kind of real-world backyard activity that has bonded American parents and their children for more than a century, and does so in a way that no other sport can replicate.
Football may have long surpassed baseball in popularity in this country, and other sports may be up to the task. But none of them have even a vestige of the natural parent-child bond that has always moved audiences to literal tears like Field of Dreams does.
None allows a parent and their son or daughter to engage in a simple activity in the same way as the parent did with their parent, a physical continuum that in some cases goes back four or five generations.
In that sense, the Dyersville gaming site used by the Cubs and Reds on Thursday is nothing short of a manifestation of America’s backyard. Whether it’s a childhood swing, a place where the family dog used to run, or a 40-foot strip of grass for a game of catch, Americans are warmly feeling what’s going on. in their backyard. The Field of Dreams game addresses those feelings in a way that’s only good for baseball.
There are apparently discussions in administrative circles about other similar activities going forward. The Cubs and Cardinals are already set to play a game in London next summer, though that game is much more about expanding baseball’s current tiny reach in Europe than advancing its connections here.
There is also at least some discussion – maybe serious, maybe not – of playing games at other historic sites… maybe a former Negro Leagues pitch or one of the pitches used in the shooting of “A League of Their Own”. This last idea would be an attempt to replay this film’s narrative about the history of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in World War II.
Both are good ideas and they should be pursued…but not at the expense of the Field of Dreams game.
Baseball plays a six-month season. At the rate of less than one of these “jewel” games per month, that’s long enough to encompass both these worthy ideas – and others – and continue to commit to Dyersville.
Emotionally, baseball’s singular strength has always been its innate ability to touch upon core American values, the most essential of which is the bond of family. These ties are certainly weaker today than they have been in the past; in fact, their decline roughly parallels the decades-long decline of the nation’s obsession with baseball.
This may or may not be a coincidence.
But that very fact is precisely why MLB should prioritize continuing to emphasize its unique ability to personify that family bond. The Field of Dreams game is a unique and singularly powerful tool to do this. Letting such a demonstrated opportunity fade into obscurity would be a major tactical mistake on the part of the game’s rulers.