DYERSVILLE, Iowa — It was the perfect night to have a catch.
The Chicago White Sox hosted the New York Yankees on Thursday night in the pastoral setting of Dyersville, Iowa, where the classic 1989 baseball movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed. The ballpark, located near the site of the field used in the film, holds 8,000 fans. That is twice the population of the eastern Iowa city.
It was officially the first major league baseball game played in Iowa, and it had a Hollywood finish.
The White Sox, who allowed four runs in the top of the ninth inning to fall behind, rallied to win 9-8 in the bottom half of the inning on Tim Anderson’s two-run homer.
The Yankees, sparked by a pair of two-out, two-run homers in the top of the ninth by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, had gone ahead 8-7. Judge added a three-run homer earlier in the game to cap a five-RBI night, and Brett Gardner hit a solo shot for New York.
The White Sox, who are leading the American League Central Division, still had some magic on the diamond carved out of a cornfield as Anderson crashed his home run.
Chicago was the home team for the game and used home runs by Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez and Seby Savala to hold off the Yankees until the ninth inning.
If one looked closely enough, the ghost of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson might have been hovering in the cornstalks of the eastern Iowa baseball field. However, Archibald “Moonlight” Graham was nowhere in sight.
Kevin Costner, who played the lead role of Ray Kinsella in the movie, attended Thursday night’s game. “Field of Dreams” starred Costner, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta, along with a cameo appearance by Burt Lancaster. The film was adapted from W.P. Kinsella’s 1982 novel, “Shoeless Joe.”
“Thirty years ago ... 30 ... on the other side of that corn, we filmed a movie that stood the test of time,” Costner said in pregame ceremonies. “Tonight, thanks to that impact that that little movie had, it’s allowed us to come here again. But now, we’re on a field that Major League Baseball made.”
The movie told the story of Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer who hears a voice telling him that if he builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield, “he will come.”
Despite objections from his family and local residents, Kinsella builds the baseball diamond out of a cornfield and is visited by the ghosts of the infamous 1919 “Black Sox,” the American League champions who were accused of throwing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.
Eight members of the Black Sox, including Jackson, were banned from baseball by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, even though they were acquitted by a trial jury, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.
Liotta played Jackson in the movie, and Dwier Brown played Costner’s father, John Kinsella. Costner and Brown have a memorable game of catch at the end of the movie, which was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Thursday night, the White Sox wore their retro uniforms from their Black Sox days. The only difference from 1919 is that players had numbers on their backs in the 2021 uniform versions.
For nearly a century, Iowa had a claim for hosting a major league game. That changed after the 1968 season.
The Keokuk Westerns of the National Association played 13 games in 1875, according to Baseball-Reference.com. The National Association was the professional league that existed from 1871 to 1875 and was replaced by the National League in 1876.
According to baseball historian John Thorn, the Special Baseball Records Committee met in 1968 and determined that the National Association would no longer be considered a major league.
The committee decided that because of its erratic schedule and procedures, the National Association was no longer considered “major league” but continued to be recognized as the first professional baseball league, Thorn wrote.
“The dream’s still alive,” Costner said. “There’s probably just one question to answer: Is this heaven?
“Yes, it is.”
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