The Early Lead: The Field of Dreams game was Iowa’s chance to shine, and we prevailed
By BRANDON HURLEY
Our corn never looked so beautiful, crisp and inviting.
Memories were uncovered with relative ease last night, peeling back years of our lives within seconds.
The timeless essence of baseball was on full display for a national TV audience amid the comforting landscape of Iowa, a scene many of us have known for decades.
It may have felt like a screenplay for the rest of the country, but for us, it was representative of what we’ve built.
I couldn’t look away.
The Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, Iowa between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees Thursday - the first-ever MLB contest in Iowa - was a thing of absolute beauty
But as I sat down to actually pen this column, I found it a tad more difficult than I expected. The unique showcase produced such an incredible amount of intoxicating nostalgia, that my struggle to actually generate coherent thoughts was hobbled by a mind of sheer liquid, melted into a puddle of giddiness.
There is plenty of beauty within the state I’ve called home for the entirety of my life. It’s one of the many things I’ve come to appreciate as time bleeds on. From memories created by long camping trips and exploratory bike rides, Iowa is home to exceptional art.
This state surely has its problems, like the 49 others, but as another warm summer night faded away, I was never more proud to be a life-long Iowan.
The Field of Dreams game, without a doubt, was an event I desperately wish I had a chance to attend. The jealously trickled through me like never before.
The atmosphere was borderline perfect, flanked by one of Iowa’s storybook-esque summer sunsets. A type of sunset that immediately elicits a perfect level of comfort, forcing us to cherish our blessings.
Famed actor James Earl Jones summed up Iowa and summer perfectly in the Field of Dreams motion picture, capturing America’s oldest sport with a few simple words.
“Baseball reminds us of all that was good and could be.”
The remarkable emotional capability of baseball is perhaps my favorite quirk of the sport. It generated one of my first life-changing moments as a senior in high school. That summer, I witnessed some of my toughest friends cry for the first time. It was simultaneously gut-wrenching and surreal following a career-ending loss, producing an odd feeling which I hadn’t yet experienced before.
The emotional dance never let up Thursday, which certainly didn’t bother a memory-fueled guy like myself.
Fox’s lead play-by-play man Joe Buck was refreshingly profound most of the broadcast. In fact, everyone involved with the production of Iowa’s first-ever MLB game clearly grasped the moment at hand.
What really stuck with me was Buck’s quote midway through the contest, piercing a nerve deep within.
“Whether it’s 2021 or 1921, the game doesn’t look that much different,” he said somewhere around the third inning.
While many may view that as a negative endorsement, I believe it’s quite the opposite. Baseball has thrived with the same rules for decades, the dimensions have remained stagnant - from the outfield wall to the distance between bases - and I see nothing wrong with that.
We enjoy baseball for its simplicity.
As a non-athletic kid in a high school jam-packed with talented students growing up, I found myself able to somewhat hang with a few of them because of baseball’s accessibility. I was a decent hitter, and that kept me content for some time, allowing me to play a sport, and fare decently well, which is hard to say for any of the other sports I love.
That is a huge reason why others gravitate to baseball as well. It’s easier to stay connected to the game even after we hang it up.
Buck continued to gush with poetic sentiments throughout the night, likely calling on his relationship with baseball and his father, which sucked me in even further. I refused to counteract the feeling, instead letting it drift over me like a calm wave.
I truly appreciated his fondness for the simple task of tossing a ball back and forth, far removed from the realm of competition, basking in the clarity of summer as one combined entity.
“There’s a connection of playing catch with someone and you don’t even need to say a word,” Buck said when talking to Field of Dreams lead actor Kevin Costner.
The two were mesmerized by our state. What a moment.
Typically known as a boring fly-over territory, Iowa was at the center of the baseball world, and it all felt incredibly perfect. We pride ourselves on a slower way of life, which I’ve come to cherish, making baseball an ideal summer companion.
We are forever infatuated with the sport.
New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole brought the beauty together with a tremendous quote as well,
“We are playing a pure game in Iowa in the middle of a cornfield. It’s pretty surreal,” he said midway through Fox’s broadcast.
And as if it were scripted, the game was punctuated by an electric walk-off home run into the corn.
Just how we all imagined it.
This is Iowa, and we won.
Thank you, MLB, for finally acknowledging our passion. We know you’ll be back.