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Field Of Dream Movie: If You Build It (and Don't Plow It Under), He Will Come
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Field Of Dream Movie: If You Build It (and Don\'t Plow It Under), He Will Come

Field of Dream Movie: "If You Build it (And Don't Plow It Under), He Will Come"

In August, 1988, shooting of the Field of Dream movie was complete. As Universal Studio crews packed to leave Dyersville, Iowa and return to Hollywood, executive producer Brian Frankish had words of wisdom for baseball field co-owners Al Ameskamp and Don Lansing. "I've got money in this budget to restore your properties, but I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to do this. There's something very special about this picture, and this ball field is going to have an opportunity to have a life here."

Eight months later, Field of Dreams was making its world premiere in nearby Dubuque, Iowa, and Al Ameskamp, with planting season at hand, was perched atop his tractor at the edge of the outfield grass. "I just turned the tractor off and thought to myself for awhile. Should I or shouldn't I?" Reasoning that a movie was made in 1988, and it's time to get back to farming in 1989, Ameskamp dropped the plow down and razed his portion of left and center field. Don Lansing, on the other hand, opted to keep his majority portion of the ball field as Hollywood had left it. It was a decision that would forever more have a lasting and positive impact on pop culture history.

"He Will Come"

Reminiscent of the movie scene where little Karin notices Shoeless Joe waiting in the outfield, Don Lansing looked out his window on May 5, 1989--two weeks after Field of Dreams premiered--and saw a man in a New York Giants baseball cap standing beside the baseball field. Just as Ray Kinsella had done in the movie, Don Lansing walked out to greet the new visitor. The man, on a cross-country trip from New York to California, explained that he had just seen the movie and was moved to come to Dyersville and see the ball diamond for himself. Before leaving, the visitor gave his black Giants hat with orange lettering to Don Lansing as a souvenir. The throwback hat was worn by the New York Giants between 1947 and 1957, the same Giants who shared New York with the Yankees, the team worshipped by Ray Kinsella's father. The hat represented a Giants team that had long ago departed New York but still cast a spell over its loyal fans. How ironic a total stranger would leave this special hat at a ball field that was developing its own loyal fans, and casting the first shadows of its own enchanting spell.

As the popular movie's legend grew, so grew the number of visitors to Don Lansing's farm. Lansing set out souvenir buttons and an empty coffee can before leaving for work each morning. He would return at day's end to find missing buttons and money in the can. Before the year was out, an estimated 7,000 visitors made the trek up Lansing's long gravel drive to see the field. Disappointed but not undaunted by the missing parts of the outfield, visitors left notes for Al Ameskamp, encouraging him to restore his portion of the now-hallowed ground. Even Ameskamp's wife, Rita, jumped on the bandwagon. "My gosh, people might like to see where the movie was made." Moved by the saddened faces of visitors who longed to see the field intact, Ameskamp replaced corn with sod in the spring of 1990, and the field was once again complete, ready to make dreams come true.

"Go The Distance"

Today, 65,000 people trek annually to the Field of Dream movie site and baseball field. On December 28, 2012, the entire package was sold to a Chicago-area couple who plan to develop a 24-field baseball/softball complex and training facility on adjacent land. Concerns abound regarding the potential over-development of pristine, untainted property that has, for years now, been considered a treasured piece of cultural Americana. If Al Ameskamp were alive today, there's no doubt he'd tell the new owners: "Don't plow under what is sacred, and people will most definitely come."


Street Talk

To be honest, I`ve never seen this movie. Sounds like an interest flick though. I`ll check it out whenever I finally get some time off from my exhaustive IM efforts lol. Keep the passion alive Bill!

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Thanks, Chip. It's really a great movie. Watch it before you're too worn out!

Reply
  about 8 years ago
Teresa M  

Your passion for this film is apparent in your writing... Keep up the good work Bill!

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Thanks, Teresa! I've been hooked since the day I first saw the movie, some 23 years ago. In fact, I'm making my seventh trip to Dyersville next month. As Terence Mann said in the film, "I must be out of my mind!" :-)

Reply
  about 8 years ago

NICE! Unfortunately I never got to see that movie - maybe one day!

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Oh, Vivian, cultural deprivation runs amok! LOL You absolutely must see this movie. I promise you won't regret it. The film was made 25 years ago, and yet, 65,000 people still flock yearly to visit the ball field and movie site. There's something very special about this movie, Vivian, and even more special is the movie site Hollywood left behind. After you've finished watching the movie and drying the tears from your eyes, you'll send me a message saying how much you loved the film. I'll be waiting. :-)

Reply
  about 8 years ago

I am enjoying your article, and I love your site. This is dear to me as it is so close to my place, and so far I have not made it there, but plan on visiting it maybe this summer.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thanks for commenting, Shawn. I've always made it a point to visit in early August, when the corn is as high as an elephant's eye. Ya just can't disappear into knee-high corn. :-)

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Great advice! It is on my to do list for sure!

  
  about 9 years ago
S. Gray  

Another great article that's filled with historical insight and context. Great work. I bet Al A. is still kicking himself for plowing his field over instead of leaving it as is, lol.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

I think a lot of people were kicking Al when he plowed up left and center field! Thankfully, wisdom prevailed and the field was restored, so Shawn Lee has no excuse for not visiting this summer. Have YOU had a chance to 'go the distance', Sonya? Thanks for commenting!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Nice article keep it up good luck

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thank you, Tommy!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thank you, Tommy. :-)

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Love your take on this great baseball movie. Got goosebumps and chills as I read another great article. Hope you take those great quotes to heart as you continue to build your following. Go the Distance, my baseball friend.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thanks for the encouragement, Mac!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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