|'Field of Dreams' - Taking Another Look|
'Field of Dreams'
Taking Another Look
Before we explore the 'Field of Dreams' matter, let us peek around the subject of sports in general.
No doubt there is and has been, a dark side to professional sports. Whenever there is the exchanging of money, and opportunity to rake it in, greedy men take advantage.
But then there is the amazing example of Bobby Jones of Georgia, the amateur golfer who walked away with every title and winner's cup that was available. Very talented, and a hard worker, Bobby was a man of high character and principle, who put the ethics of his game first, and refused to play for money. Playing by the rules, and doing it with honor (in spite of a serious physical disability) won Bobby Jones respect and admiration everywhere the game of golf was played.
Some sports offer more opportunities than others for individual stardom in a team setting. The story of Jimmie Morris from Texas, played by Dennis Quaid in the film, 'The Rookie', tells this well. As a boy, Morris dreamed of playing in the major leagues.
So he spent a lot of time developing his skills - especially in pitching.
But 'life' happened, and Jimmie's youth passed into adulthood.
His father never encouraged his baseball dreams. Jimmie got a college degree and became a math teacher and baseball coach. He found a good woman, married her, and became a father.
Because his early attempt at a baseball career ended in injury, causing Jimmie to withdraw into bitterness and depression, his wife could not encourage the baseball dream either. But when the high school players began to see the power that was in their coach's pitching arm, they gave him a challenge and pushed him to take part in a competitive tryout. Pro teams were looking for new talent.
The phone was ringing off the hook at the Morris home before Jimmie even arrived home, with his children in tow. The Wife was initially negative - for good reason. By the time the youngsters were in bed though, the atmosphere had cooled, and the couple at last agreed on a trial test run in the minors for Jimmie.
It was a successful summer, and Jimmie Morris wanted to come home. Then his coach told him he was called up to a major team, and would fly out that night, along with another player. Jimmie broke the news to his wife and son by phone, and told her to bring his sport jacket to Arlington, TX. The town grapevine got going, and a big crowd drove to Arlington the next day to see 'Coach Morris' pitch in the big leagues.
Not only did he pitch, he struck out the crucial batter with three fast balls (one was clocked at 98 mph), winning the game for his new team.
Morris played out the season, then played the next season as well, fulfilling the dream of his youth. That dream indeed came true, and to his family and his town, he was a hero.
Now, back to 'Field of Dreams'.
What is it about baseball, anyway?
My quick count of remembered film titles turned up six of them - and this writer is not even a baseball fan! (Remember, 'fan' is short for fanatic.)
As a neighborhood youngster, it must be admitted this girl did enjoy the softball experience though.
But for a verbal description of what baseball really used to mean in America, our nomination is . . . (drumroll . . . )
In 'Field of Dreams', Terence Mann, recluse, retired writer, icon of the 1960s, played by James Earl Jones, summed it up.
The film was a phenomenal success. It began with a supernatural voice in Ray Kinsella's head: 'Build it and he will come'. Ray convinced his wife and they built a professional quality baseball field into the edge of their large cornfield in Iowa. The whole story was an inter-weaving of both earthly and heavenly realities.
They used all their savings and were behind on their mortgage payments on the farm. Ray's wife Annie had a greedy brother who secretly bought their mortgage from the bank, and foreclosure was imminent.
One night both Ray and Annie had the same dream, bringing them to agreement that Ray should drive to Boston, find Terence Mann (who did not want to be found), and take him to Ebbet's Field where they would receive a message together.
When they did, Mann was intrigued, and agreed to go with Ray to Minneapolis to find Archie 'Moonlight' Graham, a ball player who had given up almost before he got started. Graham had become a medical doctor, been loved and respected by the community, and died some time earlier. But then heaven intervened again and a time-warp occurred. Ray went for a walk at night, and recognized the elderly Graham walking ahead of him. Catching up to him, he began a conversation. Then Graham said 'no' to Ray's invitation to go with him and Terry Mann back to Iowa.
However, later on Ray pulled the car off the road to talk with a hitchhiking teenager, who was looking for a town with a ball field, where he could play on nights and weekends. As they drove off together, he introduced himself. 'My name is Archie Graham', he said (another time-warp involving a younger Graham).
Soon arriving home in Iowa after dark, Ray, Terence and Archie found the ball field lit for playing, and two teams of players in uniform. The players were recognized by Terence Mann, whose amazement grew as he named them, one by one. They had all been well-known, and all had since died.
The crisis came with the fall of Ray and Annie's daughter off the bleacher where she was eating a hot dog. Annie's greedy brother had just driven up, walked across the corner of the ball field without seeing the players and was demanding that Ray sell the farm. Ray still refused. The brother was blind to the players.
When the girl choked, falling backward onto the ground, everyone halted what they were doing. Young Archie Graham, now in a team uniform, walked quickly to the edge of the field, then paused. As he stepped off of the field, moving to help the girl, his appearance changed and he was the elderly doctor again. Ray knew that Graham would not be able to return to his youthful ball-player-persona, and was making the sacrifice to help Ray's daughter.
Suddenly, the brother's eyes were opened to the spiritual reality, and as Dr. Graham removed the food from the girl's throat and set her upright, the brother did a complete turn-around and said, 'No, Ray, don't sell the farm!' If you've ever seen a miracle, you know how he felt.
Then came these words from the mouth of James Earl Jones in his character as Terence Mann . . .
Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack.
And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces.
People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
'Field of Dreams' ends with the reminder of the original promise -- 'Build it, and he will come'. After the players had left the field, there yet remained a young man whom Ray Kinsella recognized as being his earthly father. Without disclosing their relationship, Ray greeted the young man, introduced him to his wife and daughter, and they began to play 'catch'. The circle was now complete, the past was redeemed, and father and son could now become friends.
It was now dark, and in the distance, winding down the road to the farm, there was a long line of cars approaching . . .
To help us understand the underlying message of 'Field of Dreams', with its inter-weaving of earthly and heavenly events, the time-warps, the dreams, the supernatural voice - we need to take a God-view. Such things were prophesied and happened historically, in the record of Holy Scripture. For instance . . .
'I am the LORD your provider'.
'Young men shall see visions; old men shall dream dreams'.
'You will hear a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way, walk in it'.
'Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened.'
Lastly, in Shakespeare, there was the testimony of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, as he spoke to his friend . . .
'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy!'