A lasting legacy: 'Field of Dreams'

"You're all of a sudden walking on this field where you saw all these guys standing," Affeldt says. "It's almost like you were brought into their scenario, which is like what Kevin Costner was brought into. They talked to him, they hung out with him -- that was the cool thing. He met the James Earl Jones character on the road, who seemed like a grumpy author, and then he goes on this road trip and he saw the field and he just lit up. Like something inside him was fulfilled.

"That's a similar aspect to what happens to a baseball player when they get to the majors the first time, and you walk into a clubhouse or on the field."

ANGELS STARTER AND film buff C.J. Wilson says "Field of Dreams" works so well because it's about relationships more than baseball. Even if one of those relationships is between an Iowa farmer and a long-dead baseball player.

"There is a lot more subtlety in 'Field of Dreams,' I feel," Wilson says. "It's one of the first times that this mythical thing -- the imaginary -- has worked with a baseball movie. Usually, it doesn't work. Like 'The Natural' is plausible in a way. But 'Field of Dreams,' you really have to take a leap of imagination to get to the point where you can be in that universe.

"For me, it's like a Noah's ark thing, where they say he's crazy and then it turns out he's right."

He's right because "Field of Dreams" shows that baseball has the magic to connect everyone. From an Iowa cornfield to Fenway Park to Chisholm, Minn. From Australia to Luxembourg. From generations of families to softball teammates to total strangers. And especially fathers and sons.

"I think of the times when I played catch with my dad," Cleveland closer and film major (at Notre Dame) John Axford says. "And how many times he got down in the crouch position to catch me when I was throwing, and I didn't really know where the ball was going, and how many times I dinged him up. It just brings back those good memories and that good feel of baseball itself. That's where it starts for me. Being back in the yard and playing catch between an apple tree and a pear tree that we had back there."

That's one of the ironic beauties of "Field of Dreams." The movie's catchphrase -- "If you build it, they will come" -- was used as a marketing slogan when franchises were trying to blackmail communities into building lavish, publicly funded stadiums that eventually cost $250 million, $500 million, $1 billion and even more. The irony is that the movie's message is you don't need retractable roofs and luxury suites to attract fans. A humble field with an old wood bleacher is enough to have fans lining up as far as the eye can see.

"That is all you really need," Axford says. "The baseball field that was back where I came from [Port Dover, Ontario], there really wasn't much there. Just open grass and they kind of found this spot to build the baseball park and baseball field. It's still there and it's a great location. The main highway that comes into town goes around the outfield so you can see the whole ballpark as you enter town, and it's great to see it like that. When you're a kid, that's all you need.

"That's what is great about that movie. It sort of brings you back to this childhood feel."

And to your dreams.

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