'Field' still resonates, 25 years later

Thousands come to mark film anniversary with cast members

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DYERSVILLE — Kevin Costner and Dwyer Brown trotted to the infield. For a few minutes, the actors focused on playing catch. A usually commonplace occurrence, but thanks to what Costner once called a “little movie about corn” has transformed into something with large enough power to bring people from all over the world to this field

On Saturday, more than 4,000 people returned to the “Field of Dreams” movie site in Dyersville to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film.

“When we came out here nobody was here. It wouldn't be any big deal we would be going back to a film location where they made some museum out of it. But to see this many people, to see the people playing ball and telling you their memories of playing ball with their father, then it makes it really special,” said Timothy Busfield, who played brother-in-law to Costner's character, Ray Kinsella, in the film.

Cast members said they constantly see the strong emotion the movie elicits from all ages— especially grown men who can be moved to tears. Many people have approached Brown over the years to talk about their relationships with their dads.

“They really hit something about father and sons and how the relationship can have a lot of unspoken elements to it ... and with unspoken relationships you can have a lot of regrets,” said Brown, who played Costner's father in the movie. “I think what's so perfect about 'Field of Dreams' is it creates this second chance.”

Those who traveled from nearby towns in Eastern Iowa or as far away as Green Bay, Wis., and New Jersey were able to “have a catch with their sons,” echoing the final moments between Ray Kinsella and his father.

“It's one of those movies when even if it's halfway through or just before the end I can't turn it off because I want to wait for that final scene,” said Rick Lutz, who flew in from New Jersey with his sons for Father's Day. A majority of the day was focused on families recreating their version iconic final scene. They did so with brand new baseballs and others with a patina of coated dirt. Hurling balls into the mostly clear blue sky and chasing them through the foot high corn, which outlines the outfield. Then clasping it tightly as satisfying thud echoed nearby

“It's something they will remember for years,” Jason Warner of Rockford, Ill., said of his children. “They're on the same grass that (the actors) were on.”

In the afternoon, John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John's, threw out the first pitch for the celebrity softball game. During the contest, Busfield illustrated his acting chops with a full-on manager meltdown complete with the cloud of dirt dotting an umpire's shoes.

Bob Costas knifed his hands as he tried to run out a single only to be thrown out. He acted as the announcer for the last inning, channeling his more well-known profession.

The site has endured a number of struggles. Originally controlled by two families, the Lansings and Ameskamps, disagreements began to fester in the 1990s over a large souvenir stand and other aspects of how best to manage the site. The Lansings established sole control, but in January 2013 sold it to Go the Distance Baseball LLC, an investment group that includes former Boston Red Sox player and Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.

“There has been reconciliation on our part as well,” Becky Lansing said. “We have also been lucky enough to work out some of our own issues. Through all the challenges of the past 25 years there continues to be reconciliation, and isn't that why we're all here?”

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