New Shoes in the Rain

Friday, May 14, 2010

If you build it, they will......sell it?

Just saw this news item reprinted from the Des Moines (IA) Register and paraphrased here:

Iowa's world-famous “Field of Dreams” is for sale.  The field featured in the 1989 move is part of a 193-acre tract that the Lansing family have had in their family for more than 100 years.They're asking $5.4 million for the field and surrounding farmland plus the house used in the movie.
The sale will be conduced without stipulations, meaning the new owner could potentially plow under the field, just as the fictitious Ray Kinsella was urged to do by his bankers in the movie.

Now, if you're not a baseball fan, or a movie buff, or a Kevin Costner fan, perhaps you've not seen this gem from 21 years ago.  But if you are any of those things, then you know that this is almost sacred ground.  Because I've actually been there!

One of those odd convergences of circumstances wherein our daughter was moving to Denver for a residency in her field, and so my one and only condition of helping was that my wife and I return via Iowa so that I could see this sight for myself.  And it didn't disappoint, save for the fact that the corn was only ankle-high at the time of our visit.

My wife is not really a baseball fan, but thankfully she's a big Rick fan.  So if that's what I wanted, she was all for it.  And so we trekked eastward from the Denver area, north into Wyoming, then east through Nebraska and Iowa until we got within fifty or so miles. We were among the first visitors that day (a Friday, if I recall correctly) and we were there a couple of hours.  By the time we left there were about twenty or thirty people there, mostly families, but all delighted to see a baseball diamond amid cornfields.

I had a ball, a bat and a glove, and my wife threw me a pitch that I couldn't help but rip into left-center field so that I could run the bases.  One of my favorite photos of her depicts her sitting atop the bleachers from the movie (they're still there, too) with a big smile.  Probably amused at what a goof her husband became the minute we arrived.

Speaking of smiling, I don't believe I stopped grinning until we hit a major traffic jam outside of Rockford, IL later that day on our way into Chicago.

The field was at one time owned by two families, the Lansings, who owned the house and the majority of the field itself, and another family who owned the left two-thirds of the outfield.  Rumor has it that at one time the latter group actually plowed under their share of the field and then came to their senses and helped restore the field.  Later the Lansings bought out the other family, so it's all theirs until they find a new owner.

Amazingly, there is no charge to visit, despite the Terrence Mann comment that "they'll hand over the money and not even know why they were doing it."

My most cherished reminder of that visit is a framed poster showing the house and field from a somewhat elevated view.  It hangs in our garage to this day.

I wouldn't presume to tell the Lansing family what to do, but here's hoping that the next owners recognize what a special place this field has to some of us and keep it as it is, for all to enjoy.

After all, "if you build it, they will come."  We did.


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