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“People will come to Iowa, for reasons they can’t even fathom.”
Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) in Field of Dreams

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Even before I lived in Iowa between 2003 and 2013, I’d made a pilgrimage to the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, Iowa. If it’s on your bucket list of places to visit, then this summer is the ideal time to go.

The first ever MLB game game in Iowa will be played on August 13, 2020. The New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox will play in a field (and a temporary 8,000 seat stadium) adjacent to field where they shot the movie Field of Dreams.  

Today, the Des Moines Register gave a run down of activities that will be happening in August, including a showing of Field of Dreams. 

If you can’t make that game check the website for info on Field of Dream seasonal tours and opportunities to stay the night in the Field of Dreams home.

Back on the 25th anniversary of the movie Bob Costas and Kevin Costner were on hand to try to put into words why that movie continues to touch people.

“They’ll watch the game, and it will be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.”
Terence Mann
Field of Dreams

Has there been a time in Major League Baseball since the steroid era to look forward to a baseball game in a cornfield in Iowa? Last month it was revealed that the Houston Astros were cheating by sign-stealing when they won the World Series in 2017.  Some coaches were fired, some players apologized, and some have called for the Astros to be stripped of their World Series title.

MLB is not as popular as it was back in 1989 and it doesn’t need another scandal. But here we are.  Time will tell what measures MLB will take. In the meantime, I offer the smoothing voice of actor Jame Earl Jones, saying the words of written by screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson), via the character  Terence Mann.

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Page 102 of the “Field of Dreams” screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson

“It’s a crazy speech to watch knowing how many times baseball has let us down over the last 25 years. There was a real innocence about how people loved baseball [back when Field of Dreams was made], and it was the American pastime. . . . In 1989, there was no struggle. People were like; I love baseball, period.”
Bill Simmons
The Rewatchables podcast , April 19, 2019

“This Field of Dreams-style of thinking about baseball peaks with Sosa and McGwire, and then gets completely destroyed when that turns out to be horseshit.”
Chris Ryan (on the home run chase of ’98, followed by the steroids scandal)
The Rewatchables 

“Ultimately, the message about baseball is not about the purity of the game as a creation. It’s about how the game allows you to unlock something in your life.”
Mallory Rubin
The Rewatchables 

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“Baseball means what those of us hold it in our heart need it to mean. It can be a game, a past time, or it can be something by which we measure the seasons of our lives. Or it can be something that serves metaphorically for the battles, the wars, the triumphs, and the tragedies of any form of human conflict.”
Baseball: A Film by Ken BurnsEpisode 9 (Currently available on Amazon Prime)

In other Field of Dreams news, there will be a reading of the script this weekend in Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, I’ll be out of town and will miss it. But if you’re in Orlando on Sunday (2/23/2020) and would like to see professional actors reading the script, check out their Facebook page. It will also be live streamed on YouTube.

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Today I wasn’t able to track down old photos from my visit to the Field of Dreams ballpark in Iowa, but I was able to come up with a photo from a video shoot I did at Tinker Field in Orlando shortly before they tore it down. When I was growing up there were no major league baseball teams based in Florida, but we did have spring training. The Minnesota Twins Twins used to hold their spring training games at Tinker Field and that’s where I saw the Cincinnati Reds play every chance I could. When I was a youth I attended to a one-day camp that Pete Rose held on that field, and a few years later went to an open tryout at Tinker for the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Not because I was that good of a player, but I knew it would be a unique experience.)

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The perfectly cracked and faded left field fence at Tinker Field in 2014, shortly before it was removed and the stadium torn down.

When I was 19-years-old, I worked as a sports reporter and photojournalist for the Sanford Evening Herald. Here are some of my favorite baseball shots.

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Tim Raines’ plan in 1981 was to give pro baseball a try, and if it didn’t workout to walk-on to the University of Florida football team. He ended up in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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My dream at 19 was to work my way up to being a Sports Illustrated photographer. I could of had a 30 year career and not taken a better shot than this one.

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I played baseball from Little League  through high school with and against Bob Parker. He ended up playing college ball at Mississippi St. and in the minor leagues with the Houston Astros organization.

P.S. And since Field of Dreams came out in 1989, I just connected it to the Orlando Magic playing their first game in 1989. I was at that game and go this nice memento. I was in Orlando when the Magic picked up Shaq, then  “Penny” Hardaway, and finally Horace Grant and before you know it they were in the 1995 NBA finals. It was Magical.

If I recall correctly, they were the quickest franchise in NBA history to go from new franchise to the finals.  They got swept by the Houston Rockets, but a championship was in sight. Then Michael Jordan un-retired, Shaq joined the L.A. Lakers, and there was no joy in O-town. (Total titles in 31 years—0.)

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“[Dave Martinez is] a fine role model for many. Just not, it seems, a very good big league manager.”
Thomas Boswell
The Washington Post, May 22, 2019
(A few months before Martinez led the Nationals to their first ever World Series appearance.)

“If the Nationals don’t turn it around soon, don’t be surprised if [Martinez is] the first manager fired in 2019.”
David Schoenfield,
ESPN article, May 8, 2019 

Last night, during game six of the World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals, I continued a baseball tradition from my youth. As a Little League player in the era before the internet and even cable TV, I was so in love with baseball that I would listen to baseball games on the radio. I was a fan of the Cincinnati Reds when they were nicknamed The Big Red Machine.

When they played the Atlanta Braves I was able to follow the play by play commentary from a radio station out of Georgia. And for reasons I’m not totally sure of today, I had better reception from the radio in my mom’s car. So if you can imagine a 11-14 year old in Orlando, Florida sitting in a station wagon at night listening to a baseball game, that was me.

I’ve been listening to the 2019 World Series that way as well, but on my phone and in bed. If the game is uneventful I drift to sleep like listening to a podcast. But last night I stayed up for the whole game because of the drama.

With the Washington Nationals down 2-1 there was a controversial call against the Nationals that could have potentially changed the outcome of the game and the series. Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez was so upset with the call he ended up getting ejected from the game for yelling at the umpire. But managers often do that kind of thing to fire up the troops. If that was the case, it worked. After his ejection the next batter, Anthony Rendon,  hit a two run home run putting the Nationals ahead for good.

It’s all part of what I’m calling “The Dave Martinez Redemption.” Just a few months ago, The Washington Post ran an article Dave Martinez is a good man. But he probably shouldn’t be managing the Nationals. At that point, in May 2019, the Nationals were in a slump and the season was considered a wash and columnist Thomas Boswell pointed to  “The Martinez Problem.” There was a problem somewhere, because the Nationals started the year with a win/loss record of 19-31.

Since that May article, Martinez led a team that didn’t seem destined for the playoffs, all the way to their first ever World Series appearance. And facing a rock solid Houston Astro team that was highly favored to win the series, they are now locked three games a piece going into the final game tonight in Houston.  High drama indeed.

And to add an exclamation to last night’s victory, Juan Soto did a bat drop after hitting a monster home run that gave the Nationals some insurance runs.

Time will tell if the Nationals can complete the total Dave Martinez Redemption tonight by winning their first ever World Series, but Martinez has proven his worth as a manager. And if they do win the Series, that ejection will be become legendary.

And I’m pulling for Martinez, because as I’ve written before, we both played baseball at the same high school—Lake Howell. I graduated two years before him so we never played on the same team, but we both were part of conference championship teams under coach Birto Benjamin.

The year after I graduated from high school I attended what is now Seminole State College and did a paid internship as a sports reporter and photographer for the Sanford Herald. I happened to cover the first Lake Howell baseball game of the 1981 season and watched a skinny junior I’d never heard of hit a home run in his first at bat. I remembered the name Dave Martinez after that. And I’ve followed his career since then— from playing fall ball at Valencia College to being drafted by the Chicago Cubs.

Over the decades he’s continued to make a name for himself, first as a player, then as a coach where he earned a World Series ring while coaching with the Cubs in their 2016 winning season. I imagine Martinez made a name for himself last night to a new crop of people who follow baseball only loosely. Working out at the gym this morning he was mentioned several times on ESPN (complete with footage of his arguing with the umpire), and on my drive to work he was also mentioned several times as they discussed the controversial call leading to his ejection.

Update at 11:52pm—The Washington Nationals completed their incredible year by beating the Astros and finishing World Series champs

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“The only thing I can control is how hard I play, my effort and my attitude.”
George Springer
USA Today interview
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You may have never heard of George Springer, but I think his career can help your career. Springer is not a screenwriter or filmmaker, but a professional baseball player with the Houston Astros.

This is the last week of spring training for Major League Baseball and since this past Monday it was a 75 degrees, perfect blue sky day in central Florida I drove out in Kissimmee, FL for a baseball game between the Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays.

I don’t follow baseball like I did as a kid and didn’t recognize a single player in the line-up for either team. It didn’t take long to learn Springer’s name because he made a spectacular play in right field when he saved a ball from being a home run to end the inning and on the next play hit a home run.

Turns out the 25-year-old Springer is starting his second year in the big leagues. Time will tell if he’ll become a star but he certainly has a lot of potential.  What does that have to do with screenwriting and filmmaking? This is the way I see it…Springer has had a lot of small victories to bring him where he is today.

He was a high school baseball star in Avon, Connecticut who attended the University of Connecticut on a scholarship. His freshman year of college he was named to the Baseball America Freshman All-America First Team. Two years later he was named the Big East Player of the Year and to several first team All-American teams.

In 2011 he was a first round draft pick of the Astros and had a nice signing bonus of $2.52 million. To develop as a player he played for several minor league teams in Corpus Christi, TX, Oklahoma City, Ok, Landcaster, CA and Troy, NY. His play was good enough in Texas he was voted the Texas League Player of the Year.

Last April he made his MLB debut, and the following month was named Rookie of the Month, before going on to hit 20 home runs in his rookie season. So when I saw him play earlier this week and make that great catch crashing into the right field fence, followed by his home run over the same right field fence—he’s been on a steady upward path for at least the past decade.

Dream big, start small. Consider it spring training for screenwriters. (And sometimes those small victories are just completing a script and starting the next one.)

P.S. Below is a micro doc I made on Tinker Field last year after I learned it was going to torn down. There were some protests which delayed the process, but I just learned that next week the demolition will begin on the former spring training facility.

4/19/15— Just ten days after I wrote this post Springer made perhaps the greatest catch of his career basically duplicating the catch I saw in spring training, but this time robbing a player of a walk-off grand slam home run in the 10th inning of a regular season game. See Springer’s game saving catch.

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