by Ryan Krzykowski
Last week, at least in the circles I travel in, it was all about Field of Dreams. Everywhere I looked, someone was talking about Field of Dreams. On Thursday, the Yankees and White Sox played an extremely entertaining game in Iowa, in a little stadium adjacent to the original field used in the movie. Kevin Costner showed up. 90-year old James Earl Jones recorded audio for the telecast. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but as someone who’s loved Field of Dreams for over 30 years, I was definitely intrigued by everything going on. I watched the movie early in the week to get myself geared up for the festivities, and predictably, when I made it to the end of the film I found myself in tears yet again.
Why does that happen? Why does this admittedly sappy movie get to me? What is it about the combination of baseball, mysterious voices, corn, time travel, nostalgia, children, parents, and a game of catch that hits so many of us at an emotional level? (For the record, I understand not everyone enjoys Field of Dreams. It’s been described as patronizing, as if a cosmically contrived game of catch can somehow heal relationships and make everything right with the world. And so if you’re in that camp, I get it and respect your take.)
I can’t say exactly where the movie’s power comes from, but for me it’s in the neighborhood of the father/son dynamic. Even for those of us fortunate enough to have mostly positive relationships with our Dads, there’s often that small missing piece: something meaningful that remains undone or unspoken. And the sight of Ray and John Kinsella playing catch, knowing there’s this history of tension and regret between the two of them, pokes at that part of me. Probably more than anything, seeing Ray and John come together at the end of the movie makes me extremely grateful. I’m grateful for my Dad, who has modeled sacrifice and selflessness as long as I’ve known him. I’m grateful for all four of my sons, who have been among my greatest joys. We’ve had a pretty good run as sons and Dad over the past 21 years and I’m eagerly looking forward to the coming decades. (I’m also beyond grateful for my wife and Mom, pictured above. They are the very best.)
So while Field of Dreams isn’t a perfect movie, and baseball’s decision to play a game there as a tribute to the film’s impact doesn’t move the needle for everyone, it certainly does for me. And the entire experience – watching the movie again, taking in the pregame ceremony, and the game itself provided me with a fresh reminder of the way that sports can play a major role in connecting and bringing people together.
Let’s Coach With Purpose…