By John “Radio” Russell Ghrist
“Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.” “If you build it, they will come!” These are the popular catch phrases synonymous with the 1989 Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams.
A baseball expert once said that fewer than 15 percent of those wanting to play major league baseball ever make it. However, for one night in late August 2017, a number of vintage ballers drove to Dyersville, IA, to play on the actual movie set field. Several teams from the Midwest were divided up to form four teams. No scores or stats were kept and, for the most part, the hurlers laid the ball in there to be swatted for memories, as if we were all professional baseball players in the movie.
The evening opened with all of us walking out of the cornfield. Every 35 minutes, a new game began. I did my usual antics of putting the ball in my hat and pitching to the batters. At one point, I allowed myself to be hit by a pitched ball, rolled around in the dirt and was cleaned up by a bearded umpire with a whisk broom among the laughter of a very receptive audience.
We all have nicknames, and mine is Moonglow, after my favorite song. Everyone had a good time and the memories were priceless.
The night was special for me and my son Jimmy, who is a Munster, IN, policeman. We played on the same team with other members of the Chicago Salmon Vintage Baseball Team. Jimmy remarked in an interview I did for my radio show that he enjoyed the opportunity to play ball in a very special game with his dad under the lights and stars of an Iowa night.
October is the time for the World Series, but this was more important to us. It was a dream come true—Dad and his son playing the game they both grew up with. It was as if we were there with Shoeless Joe, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster enjoying our national pastime together.