If You Build It, He Will Come: Revisiting a Modern Classic

It’s a phrase that has made its way into the modern American vernacular.

If you build it, he will come.

The “it” is a baseball field, and the “he” (or so we think) is the great Shoeless Joe Jackson, a sure-fire Hall of Fame baseball player who was disgraced and banned from the game for life for his part in taking a bribe to affect the outcome of the 1919 World Series.

The movie is, of course, Field of Dreams – it’s my favorite of all time.  The reasons are many:

1. I love baseball

2. I watched it with my newlywed on our honeymoon at Walt Disney World.  Yes, it brings back good memories.

3. I’m a fan of W.P. Kinsella – the author of the book Shoeless Joe which inspired the movie.   If you haven’t read The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, check it out.

4. Lastly, it’s not about baseball.

And that, my friends, is the most important message to remember.  Field of Dreams is a tender wish for any son who wants one last shot to make things right with his father.  It’s a modern day pilgrimage of a man (Kevin Costner) whose regrets have long haunted him only to suddenly to be given a second chance at making things right by bringing back his father’s hero- Shoeless Joe Jackson.  How does he bring him back the long dead slugger? By plowing under his corn field and building a magical baseball field – a field of dreams.

It’s a whimsical, feel-good tale, full of an amazing cast (James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and the legendary Burt Lancaster) that helped propel it to an Academy Award nomination for best picture. (Even though that means nothing to me.)  Even the real life field in Dyers, Iowa has become a shrine for hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world who have been moved by the film.

It’s a modern day classic in the cinematic tradition of It’s a Wonderful Life.

If you haven’t seen it lately, it’s time to revisit it.

It is spring training after all.