On Your Marc: 5/3/16

Field of dreams a real treat

By Marc Katz

Of course I’ve visited Field of Dreams. Are you nuts?! Dayton being this close and a reason to be closer? I visited twice, actually.

Usually, I don’t get this way for Hollywood movie sets, but sometimes you have to make exceptions.

There are only two reasons to visit Iowa, and I’ve been there for both of them.

It’s not for political caucuses or deep fried butter on a stick at the state fair (or even hockey games, and I’ve been there for those, as well).

It’s to go to an Iowa Hawkeyes football game (no apologies to Iowa State or even Drake) and to visit Dyersville, home of the Field of Dreams.

Hey, I was only an hour-and-a half away from the place, so why would a little frosty weather make a difference?

Dyersville is up in the northeast section of the state, also known for its farm toy museum.

After the movie “Field of Dreams” was released in 1989, I noticed Ohio State had a football game at Iowa in 1990. Sure it was going to be cold. It was early November, but the field was open all the time, and farmer Don Lansing, who owned all the property save some of left field, kept a few bats out for visitors.

He had so many visitors that first year, he asked for the movie studio to reinstall the telephone pole lights and send some T-shirts he could sell.

Lansing’s white farmhouse stands on a little hill. The movie people carved out the rest from the cornfields. They also installed a small section of bleachers.

What could it hurt to go up there? To get to Iowa City, you had to fly to Cedar Rapids, just north of the University of Iowa, rent a car and drive south, not quite 30 miles. Dyersville was in the other direction, but with my plane arriving early Friday afternoon, I figured I had enough time to visit Dyersville and return to Iowa City for dinner with my writing buddies, none of whom wanted to join me in Dyersville.

I called Don Lansing to make sure that was okay. He said it was.

Then, the plane was late. I was arriving after dark.

I had to call Lansing and let him know what happened, asking if I woke up early for a late Sunday morning flight home, would the field still be open? Lansing said he’d be awake.

It turned out, it wasn’t a waste to take my Louisville Slugger baseball jacket, my glove, a ball and an old Chicago White Sox hat.

In case you were wondering, the Buckeyes won Saturday.

Sunday, I started on the highway early. Iowa’s freeway north quickly turned into a two-lane highway, then a one-lane. When I arrived in Dyersville, it might have been 35 degrees. I followed the street signs.

There was a paved road that gave way to a dirt road that gave way to a gravel road. Suddenly, I looked to my left, and there it was—the Field of Dreams.

Corn had long since been harvested, but Lansing left several rows standing, ringing the outfield. I picked up a bat he left, ran the bases, sat in the bleacher section and headed for the outfield.

I had a regular camera with me, put it in timer mode and hung it on a nail on one of the light poles.

Then, I casually walked out of the corn and into the picture.

Tell me who wouldn’t do something like that.

It was probably 8 a.m., and I went to the farmhouse. Lansing motioned me toward what looked like a shed, opened it up and I bought a polo shirt with the Field of Dreams logo (that I still wear) and a mug that pictures ballplayers walking out of the corn when hot liquid is poured in.

The original mug was broken, but my wife duly ordered me a new one.

A few years later, I had to go back, and this time had Chick Ludwig of the Dayton Daily News staff with me. The car was in my name, so he had to go.

Lansing’s neighboring farmer saw the value of selling souvenirs, so now he had a shed, too, and it looked a little commercial.

A year or so ago, Lansing had to sell his farm. From what I can gather on the Internet, the new owners wanted to keep the baseball legacy but also “develop” the land into a baseball/softball complex.

Uh, oh.

This is not what W.P. Kinsella envisioned when he wrote the book “Shoeless Joe,” the Field of Dreams story.

I really don’t know what’s there now. I want it to be a field surrounded by corn, a place of dreams and to dream.

I’m not sure I’d go back, but if I were in the area, I’d give it a thought. When you build it, they will come.

Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at katzcopsnsports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@daytoncitypaper.com.

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Marc Katz
Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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