I’ll admit upfront that I’ve always been a sucker for all of the artifice surrounding the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” everything from the hyperglycemic homage to our national pastime and the affectionate portrayal of Shoeless Joe to the elegance of the field itself and – most importantly – the underlying premise about fathers and sons. Great stuff, eh?
So naturally, I took note of the Associated Press story the other day saying that my favorite “Field of Dreams” in Dyersville, Iowa, was up for sale for a cool $5.4 million.
The AP reported that Don and Becky Lansing, the owners of the site near Dyersville where the field was built by Universal Studios, said they’re selling the property. The couple said they love the land, which has been in Don Lansing’s family for more than a century, but they’re ready to retire and give up the property.
“It’s really time for us to head to the locker room. Maybe that sounds corny. I don’t care,” Becky Lansing said. “We really would just love to become spectators. We want to sit in the bleachers. We want to look forward to all that the ‘Field of Dreams’ will become in the future.”
And to think that just the other day we drove by Dyersville en route to Kansas City. I wanted to stop and plop myself down in short center field for a nap, but our schedule wouldn’t permit. And Dyersville is not exactly handy for Interstate travelers.
But like the grand poetry of the story by W.P. Kinsella, that didn’t stop it from becoming a genuine tourist attraction in the years following the release of the film.
The Lansing family handsomely maintained the baseball diamond over that span, creating a charming real-life symmetry with the story line. And they managed this despite wrasslin’ with a nearly two-decade beef with their neighbors, who owned sections that essentially made the project an uneasy joint commercial venture. The Lansings bought the neighbors’ parcel three years ago, seemingly paving way for the current sale listing.
Up for sale is the diamond, a two-bedroom house, six outbuildings that include a concession stand (there had been two separate ones years ago), and a 193-acre parcel, including the mystical cornfield where the ghosts of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, “Moonlight” Graham and others emerge to play ball.
The AP reported that former major league pitcher Ken Sanders, now a real estate consultant overseeing the sale, said he’s already received a number of inquiries about the property, with some indicating an interest in preserving the property but others hinting about the possibility of putting up a hotel, water park or even a minor league ballpark on the site.
“We are the caretakers of a living piece of sports memorabilia,” Becky Lansing told the AP. “This is an organic, living, breathing piece of memorabilia.”
If grass can breathe, then she’s not kidding. Best grass I ever napped on. Hold your giggles, please.
But here’s what I don’t get. If Ray Kinsella had 193 acres, then apparently he wasn’t the dirt-poor farmer we were led to believe 21 years ago as we got wrapped up in Kinsella’s yarn. If you figure plowing under maybe three acres or so for the swell ballfield, it doesn’t seem like his curious little bit of eccentricity should have imperiled the family’s financial future quite so starkly.
I guess it’s artistic license. Leave it to me to quibble about something like that in a story that has ghosts of Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Buck Weaver, et. al, teleporting themselves from the netherworld into an Iowa cornfield.
Talk about swallowing a camel and straining at a gnat.