“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again…” (From Field Of Dreams)
I recently went to a game at Dodger Stadium, and while sitting up in the stands awaiting the next pitch, I was again reminded of one simple fact: There are few things that bring me closer to memories of childhood than a trip to the ballpark. While my hometown didn’t have a major league team, we still had baseball. I frequently went to minor league games with my dad when I was a kid. Every time I go to a game, no matter what stadium it is or who is playing, I’m whisked back to a time when life was simple, when I dreamed big dreams and wondered who I’d become and what I’d be doing years and years from now. Baseball is part of that magic for me, the joy of an afternoon at the ballpark, the belief that anything is possible.
Field of Dreams, one of my all-time favorite baseball movies just hit it’s 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Kevin Costner along with his family and a few other luminaries from the film went back to Dyersville, Iowa, where the real Field Of Dreams still stands, The Hollywood Reporter announced today. After the film’s release, the original Iowa Field Of Dreams, about a 5-hour drive from where I grew up in Nebraska, became a tourist attraction for legions of baseball fans everywhere. Even today, people still come… just as the film predicted. A weekend full of special events to mark the 25th anniversary milestone was appropriately scheduled for this Father’s Day weekend. By all accounts, it was a success:
“I’m glad to be here with friends and old acquaintances and making some new ones, and for my children to be a part of this,” Costner said. “It’s certainly a high mark for me, this little movie, and it remains so.” (As quoted in The Hollywood Reporter.)
The history of baseball is fascinating, even mythical in its beginnings. Here in Los Angeles, home of the Dodgers, the Japanese American National Museum is currently hosting a special exhibit detailing the accomplishments of many in baseball’s longstanding history. I recently attended the exhibit and was struck by how much the history of baseball has paralleled (and even shaped) U.S. history, especially as reflected in the civil rights era.
Although, Dodgers: Brotherhood Of The Game focuses on the Dodgers contributions to the legacy of baseball, the exhibit focuses specifically on the culture of baseball as a whole as seen through the accomplishments of culturally diverse players, Jackie Robinson, Fernando Valenzuela, Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo as well as manager Tommy Lasorda, all of whom were instrumental in making the baseball the multicultural sport it is today. Apart from the artifacts of the era, I found the historic timeline of baseball milestones to be not only extensive, but an especially impressive overview.
Dodgers: Brotherhood of the Game is a collaboration between the Los Angeles Dodgers, Peter O’Malley and Family, and the Japanese American National Museum. The exhibit is showing through September 14, 2014 at The Japanese American National Museum (100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012, (213) 625-0414)
Although time goes by and people grow older and pass away, baseball is a constant that I hope will be there for generations to come. These days, it may not be the most popular spectator sport, but that certainly doesn’t take anything away from the beauty of the game and its longstanding traditions. Long live baseball!
For previous articles about baseball history and movies from this writer, please see: Baseball Nostalgia and Jackie Robinson’s Legacy