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In the end, all the world’s an Iowa movie set

The Field of Dreams site in rural Iowa owes its fame as the set for a movie steeped in nostalgia. New memories were made at Thursday night’s White Sox/Yankees game.

Field of Dreams is a cultural touchpoint for every boomer on the planet, a movie pulling them back into their childhoods. It’s an open call to reminisce about simpler times—or at least what the viewer perceives as simpler times. Not that there’s anything wrong with sentimentality—during hard times (say, in the midst of a pandemic) there’s nothing inherently bad about a yearning for fond memories.

The appeal of last night’s game can be attributed both to the nostalgia surrounding the film and the uniqueness of the offering: it’s not every day you see Major League Baseball stars take the field outside the confines of an MLB facility and at a pop-up ballpark set in an Iowa cornfield. (To see how this ballpark came to be, check out our in-depth story on the process of planning and building this unique facility.)

MLB certainly emphasized the nostalgia, wisely pulling in Field of Dreams star Kevin Costner for the proceedings. Costner was an effective spokesman for the game at a pregame press conference and also during the pregame ceremonies, where he made a dramatic entrance from the right-field cornfield and delivered a heartfelt, yet very Midwestern intro to the event.

And, luckily for Major League Baseball, the game on the field was an entertaining affair, with dramatic ninth-inning heroics from both teams. Aaron Judge, who in a pregame press conference said he was impressed with the location and the experience, homered twice, but in the end the White Sox’ Tim Anderson stole the show with a dramatic two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for the win. It was a Hollywood ending to a Hollywood night.

Let’s face it: there were plenty of things that could have gone wrong. The game could have been a blowout, causing fans to rune out early. The heavy rains that swept through the area on Monday and Tuesday could have easily swept through Thursday and Friday, leading to a cancelation. A star could have been injured.

But nothing bad happened. In a pregame press conference, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed there would be a 2022 game at the Field of Dreams site, with the ballparks rebuilt for the third time. (The ballpark was originally constructed for a 2020 game, canceled due to COVID-19. This year’s pop-up ballpark, made up of rental parts, will be dismantled over the next two weeks.) Though he didn’t confirm it, the Cubs are a likely participant, and given the popularity of St. Louis in southeastern Iowa, a Cubs-Cards game would be the logical choice. Though Manfred didn’t say it, there’s word the event will be expanded by a day or two, with local Iowa MiLB teams playing a game as well. 

The more optimistic want to see the game return on an annual basis, but let’s face it: a Rays/Angels game played in Dyersville in 2025 just wouldn’t have the same appeal or the same potential for drama and nostalgia. MLB has done a great job in planning remote games as part of celebrations, including games at Fort Bragg as a thank-you to the troops and a Little League celebration at Williamsport’s Bowman Field. We look forward to future pop-up events like the Field of Dreams game—but we’re not looking forward to an attempt to replicate what was a perfect experience.

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