The score was inconsequential—a 2-2 tie.
The memories, though, were indelible for the Leo High School baseball team and players from four other schools in State Senator Willie Preston’s 16th legislative district.
They traveled to the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville, Iowa, on Sunday, August 14 to participate in the first Senator Willie Preston All-Star Game. They took in all the sites that made the 1988 Kevin Costner/Amy Madigan/James Earl Jones film such an enduring and endearing treasure, a classic blend of baseball’s ageless charm and a nostalgic yearning for simpler times.
To make a great experience even better, Leo Lions assigned to the Blue and Gray teams were among the most impactful players on the museum-piece field. Sophomore Derrick Davis delivered a two-run single to stake the Gray team to an early 2-0 lead. Senior Lalo Santana’s two-run double pulled the Blue team even in the sixth.
A walk, a hit batsman and a throwing error put runners at second and third with no outs for the Grays in the bottom of the seventh, but Lindblom senior Xavier Arroyo struck out the side to preserve the 2-2 tie.
“What an incredible day for our boys,” said Leo Principal Shaka Rawls, who joined players, coaches, parents and fellow administrators in a 30-person Leo party for the 3 1/2-hour bus trip. “This is an experience none of us will ever forget. We’re grateful to Senator Preston for including us.”
The two-story farmhouse in which Costner’s Ray Kinsella lived with his family is preserved on the site intact, as is the cornfield which Kinsella converted into a baseball field at the behest of an ethereal mystery voice. You could almost see Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and his cronies joyfully emerging from the cornstalks to fulfill the voice’s promise that “if you build it, he will come” … as well as the heart-wrenching Archie “Moonlight” Graham scene.
James Earl Jones, an unlikely Costner co-conspirator as reclusive writer Terence Mann, delivers the film’s signature monologue when he assures Kinsella that he’s on to something.
“This field, this game, it’s part of our past,” Mann says “It reminds us of all that was good and can be good again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will definitely come.”
Terence Mann’s prediction has definitely come true. More than 350 teams have played on the Field of Dreams field this year alone, and the complex hosts more than 65,000 visitors during its official operating season from April to November.
The major league field on which the White Sox beat the Yankees in 2021 and the Cubs beat the Reds a year later is being converted into a permanent facility. Construction is under way on a nine-field complex for youth baseball and softball tournaments.
More than 50 baseball Hall of Famers have taken part in events at the site. White Sox great Frank Thomas is among the investors.