The 'Field of Dreams' remains an attraction, and the people come

September 18, 1990|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Evening Sun Staff

DYERSVILLE,IOWA — A CAR FROM West Virginia pulls out of the gravel parking lot. Soon it is replaced by a van from New York. Out of it spills a bunch of youngsters, headed for the clearing beyond the corn.

There is no admission charge; no waiting to see the main attraction. You see it, in fact, as soon as you make the last turn onto the lane that winds down a bit, then crosses a creek. Here the cornfield gives way to a baseball diamond.

It is just the way Hollywood left it a couple of years ago. It is just the way the fictional Ray Kinsella envisioned it when he plowed under his corn crop and mortgaged his life for a dream.

It is the Field of Dreams.

And the people come.

To an island in the corn near Dyersville, in northeastern Iowa, where the land rolls as it moves away from the Mississippi River and toward the plains. On an August day the corn is in its glory.

The sun breaks through on the folks who have come in late summer to see this strange attraction, a baseball field carved out of a cornfield. A baseball field that's been saved, even though the movie people who made it are long gone, and the men who own it are used to working land, not contemplating it.

But the people come.

Some 250 to 450 a day this summer, says the gray-haired lady behind the counter at the T-shirt stand. It and the nearby Coke machine are the only bits of commercialism.

And what do these people do here?

Walk around, look, point, take pictures, sit in the stands, remember the baseball-fantasy movie, dream.

And play baseball, of course. It's strictly bring-your-own -- bats, balls, gloves -- pick-up baseball. There's a dream-like twist to the game here, though. Few batters strike out; the bases are packed; the baselines busy.

Midway between the pitcher's mound and home is a muddy dent in the dirt. A spot worn there by dads and granddads, and an occasional mom, no doubt, who wanted to pitch to their little ones.

Just beyond center field is the corn, six or seven feet high, laden with long ears and topped with perfect tassels. Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa. Hollywood could not have done it better.

The rows between the corn are indeed wide enough to walk in.

There is a section of bleachers, too, and behind them, the house, just as people remember it. The house, like the land, has been returned to its owner, Don Lansing, the man whose cornfield would become a baseball field and, soon after, a tourist attraction.

Lansing owns most of the land. Left field, and part of center field belong to Lansing's neighbor, Al Ameskamp. After the filmmakers' moved out in the summer of 1988, Ameskamp plowed under his share of the outfield and planted corn again. But, this year, the corn is gone and the baseball field whole once more.

On each side of the field, there is a guest book and a donation box: one for Ameskamp, another for Lansing.

Ameskamp has put up a bulletin board with a story line from "Field of Dreams," released in the spring of 1989, and pictures of stars Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan with him and his family. A note by the donation box disavows any interest in the T-shirt stand on Lansing's property, suggesting that all is perhaps not heavenly between those who share the dream field.

But the folks who walk around, look, point, take pictures, sit in the stands and play baseball don't seem to notice.

It is the Field of Dreams.

And the people still come.

The movie "Field of Dreams" will be televised tonight at 9 o'clock on WBAL-TV, Channel 11.

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