Field of Dreams

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Field of Dreams is a 1989 fantasy film which tells the story of a man who builds a baseball diamond in his Iowa corn field. It stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffmann, Ray Liotta, Timothy Busfield, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, and Frank Whaley.

The movie was directed and adapted by Phil Alden Robinson from the novel Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

The character played by Burt Lancaster and Frank Whaley, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, was a real baseball player. The background of the character is based on his true life, with a few factual liberties taken for artistic reasons.

The character played by James Earl Jones, the fictional author Terrence Mann, is based on the character J. D. Salinger in the original novel. In 1947, the real Salinger wrote a story called A Young Girl In 1941 With No Waist At All, featuring a character named Ray Kinsella.

The baseball field built for the film has become an attraction with the same name.



A child of the Sixties, Ray Kinsella is convinced by his wife to move from Berkeley and live on a farm in Iowa. He's 36 years old and up to his ears in mortgage debt when he hears a mysterious voice in his cornfield. "If you build it, he will come." His wife and daughter don't hear it.

The next time he hears the voice, he also sees three visions of a baseball field illuminated for a night game, as well as a vision of Shoeless Joe Jackson. He becomes convinced that he's supposed to construct a ballfield so that Shoeless Joe, the boyhood hero of Ray's father, who was suspended from Major League Baseball following a gambling scandal, can play baseball again. Annie thinks he's crazy but also thinks that "If you really think you should do this, then you ought to do it."

To the jeers of his neighbors, Ray plows under several acres of ripening corn and constructs a full-size ball field next to his house. It looks great, but nothing happens, and a year later he's in "moderate to severe financial difficulties". He can keep the field, but that makes it "awfully hard to keep the farm" as his wife sympathetically points out. At this point, his daughter pops in to announce, "There's a man on your lawn."


  • The original working title of the movie was the same as the book, Shoeless Joe, before it was renamed by the producers. Author W.P. Kinsella later reported that his original working title for the novel itself was Dream Field.
  • During the filming, in the summer of 1988, the midwest was stricken with a severe drought. Water was brought in to irrigate the cornfield and make it look good for the movie. The act of plowing the healthy corn under, to build the ballfield, was met with real-life bewilderment by area farmers whose crops were suffering from the rainless summer.
  • In the scene where Shoeless Joe Jackson talks to Costner's character about heaven, fog is seen creeping out of the corn field and across the diamond. This was not a special effect — the fog had actually come in at the time.
  • The frequently-asked question, "Is this Heaven?" became a bumper-sticker slogan for Iowa for some years thereafter.
  • The real Joe Jackson was a rural southerner, while Ray Liotta spoke with a northern city accent. Liotta also batted righthanded while Jackson batted lefthanded. These were known facts to the producers, who decided not to do as was done in The Pride of the Yankees, wherein Gary Cooper was filmed batting righthanded and then the film was flipped to simulate the lefthanded Lou Gehrig.
  • In a unique trivia record of some kind, this was the second consecutive year that Kevin Costner had played a baseball-oriented character with a love interest named Annie. In 1988 he had starred with Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins in Bull Durham.
  • The diamond's outfield was much smaller than a regulation ballfield would have. For filming purposes, the corn lining the outfield needed to be closer to the cameras than normal major league dimensions would allow.
  • The "Clean Shaven Umpire" listed in the closing credits was played by a member of the production team who normally sported facial hair. He has one speaking line in the film. After batter Archie Graham asks him to warn the pitcher about throwing beanballs, the umpire says, "Sure...", looks at the pitcher briefly, then turns to Archie and says, "...Watch out you don't get killed!"
The Bleachers and the House
The Bleachers and the House
Downtown Dubuque
Downtown Dubuque

Places featured in the film

Except for a few location shots for Boston, notably Fenway Park, much of the film was shot in and around Dubuque County, Iowa. Places that were used in the film were:

  • Dubuque was featured in the following:
    • University of Dubuque- Kevin Costner's character Ray looks up information on Terrance Mann in the school library. When Ray and Annie are walking to their truck Blades Hall and the Van Vliet main administration building are shown.
    • Hendricks Feed. The store where Ray had gone to purchase supplies is located in downtown Dubuque.
    • Terrance Mann's apartment and neighborhood - This was located near 17th Street and Central Avenue in Dubuque.
    • Airline Inn. This roadside motel is about three miles south of Dubuque along US Highways 61/151. This is the motel where Ray and Terrance stayed while traveling to Minnesota.
    • Downtown gas station. The gas station where Ray gets directions to Terrance Mann's place was originally just south of the intersection of 3rd and Locust Streets in Dubuque. The gas station is no longer there, torn down to facilitate economic development.
  • Farley, Iowa. The PTA meeting about Terrance Mann's books was at Western Dubuque Elementary/Jr. High School, in Farley.
  • Galena, Illinois - Galena was used to represent parts of Chisholm, Minnesota.

The film used local roads quite extensively to represent the drive from Dyersville to Boston, Boston to Chisholm, and Chisholm to Dyersville. The following are some of the local roadways used:

  • U.S. Highway 20 - Part of the highway between the Illinois towns of East Dubuque and Galena was used to represent the drive from Boston to Chisholm. The Citgo station where Ray and Terrance stopped was along the highway west of Dubuque. When Ray and Annie are driving home from town, parts of the highway west of Dubuque are shown.
  • U.S. Highway 52 - Parts of the highway north of Dubuque were used in the drive from Crisholm to Dyersville.
  • U.S. Highway 151 - A portion of this highway that is about six miles south of Dubuque is seen in the scene where Ray and Terrance are in the van and talking about Ray's father.


Some from the community, as well as some more well known Hollywood actors were used as extras. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were extras in the scenes filmed at Fenway Park in Boston. Local radio personality Paul Hemmer also was an uncredited extra when he appeared as the husband who held "Beulah - the Angry PTA Mother" back after Annie asked her if she wanted to step outside. Local businessman and Iowa lawmaker Paul Scherrman also appeared as an extra in the film as an additional ballplayer. Pretty much the entire population of Dyersville was employed in the film's final scene.


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