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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Field of Dreams of Fathers and Sons*

Father and Son
Universal Studios publicity still

*Somerset Daily American
June 27, 2010
as "More Than a Movie"

Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey
Written material only

A colleague and I were sharing some breakroom chat when he dropped a minor bombshell.

“Did you hear that the Field of Dreams is up for sale?”

I’m sure there are a lot of guys who shared my wildly irrational thought of whether I could somehow afford the $5.4 million asking price.

The history of the field outside of Dyersville, Iowa has not been without controversy. It was built by the movie studio on land owned by two neighboring families. The Lansings owned the infield, right field, and the adjacent house, while the Ameskamps owned left and center fields. For years the two families ran competing enterprises until 2007 when Rita Ameskamp sold her share to the Lansings. But even the supernatural forces of Shoeless Joe and the White Sox couldn’t shield this pop culture shrine from hard economic realities. Thus, on May 13, 2010, the Lansings announced that the field was on the market. In one unusual twist, the listing agent for the property is Ken Sanders, who spent 12 years in The Show as a relief pitcher for the Brewers and the A’s.

In America, baseball fields scattered across the landscape, as common a sight as the grass that covers them. But of all the fields in all the parks in all the land, there’s something very unique and special about this one.

Once in a great while, a movie comes along that gently takes us by the heartstrings. 1989’s “Field of Dreams” was just such a film. On the surface, it’s just a baseball movie. But it is so much more. It’s about the faith and trust that must exist in a marriage. It’s a story about how, even in tough times, we are compelled to pursue our dreams. But mostly, it’s about the complex and often brittle, yet tender relationship between a father and son.

And the gift of a second chance.

That this story was framed on a baseball field is fitting. Through those difficult adolescent years, when fathers and sons are engaged in the tug-of-war of wills, discipline, and obedience, that diamond was the one place where the truce was called. Sports have always reached across the anger and bitterness, giving Dads and sons a common ground to heal and bond.

The importance to men and boys of sports in general, and baseball in particular can be boiled down to the essentials of a simple game of catch.

The glove slips on easily. Time and use has formed it to your hand alone. Raise the glove to your face and breathe deeply. The rich aromas of leather, dirt, and chalk fill the senses. Close your eyes; let go of the present and the sweet memories of a thousand summer days flow gently from your soul.

Pick up the ball. As your fingers wrap around the hide and stitches, you pause and reflect that there’s nothing that feels more perfect than a baseball in your hand. Almost reflexively the ball is launched through the air. On the other end, eyes follow the ball’s flight and the gloved hand moves automatically to intercept its arc. A teasing, light-hearted form of competition may appear as a particular throw comes in faster, or perhaps with the sharper arc of a curve ball. All the while, the brain busily processes thousands of calculations per second, governing such things as vector, thrust, velocity, gravity, decreasing radii, arcs and tangents. You couldn’t design a computer complex enough to do this. But for us, it’s just a relaxing game of catch on a perfect day.

It’s a deceptively simple thing really, this game of catch. But in that piece of space and time, two lives are connecting; spirits are healing; love is happening. As the ball sails beneath the sun-splashed sky, memories are made that will live forever.

“Field of Dreams” is about redemption. It’s about making the most of those precious moments we take so much for granted before time steals them away forever.

It’s about discovering how much love there is in the simple words…

“Hey Dad…wanna have a catch?”

“Yeah; I’d like that.”
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