At ‘Field of Dreams’ site, Tim Anderson, White Sox spin a backward-looking game forward

Over the course of the sun’s setting on Dyersville, Iowa, Thursday night, it became evident that Major League Baseball could use the “Field of Dreams” ties like training wheels.

The movie was absolutely necessary for the conception of the idea. The White Sox and Yankees wouldn’t have played a game in Dyersville, or maybe anywhere else in Iowa, had “Field of Dreams” never existed. If MLB announced a game in Keokuk because it’d be a nice change of pace, I don’t think it’d be enough to support an entire primetime broadcast’s efforts. The film, despite flaws that are more evident 30 years later, still has enough cachet to hang real baseball upon.

But while you can argue Kevin Costner’s presence was necessary to introduce the game to a national audience, the broadcast didn’t need his assistance for a full inning during. By that point, the visuals were already intoxicating enough. The park looked beautiful in the afternoon …

… it was watercolor material at dusk …

… and it was especially striking at night. Before Tim Anderson lit up the sky in his own way, my favorite shot of the Fox broadcast centered on Craig Kimbrel’s introduction.

Six years before the White Sox threw the 1919 World Series, they circled the globe in an offseason baseball diplomacy trip with another New York team (the Giants). It included a stop in Ottumwa, Iowa, and I imagine this is what it might’ve looked like.

With exceptions of course. The White Sox and Giants had to call games by dusk, both for visibility purposes and to adhere to train schedules, while the White Sox and Yankees had MLB-grade lighting for as long as they needed.

* * * * * * * * *

There’s also the matter that a player who looked like Tim Anderson wasn’t allowed to play in the original version of those uniforms 102 years ago, which is one of many reasons why it so striking that he decided the game on Thursday night.

Anderson was involved in both the marketing and anti-marketing of the game. In his first comments about the game, he and CC Sabathia didn’t so much rag on the film as they did the general concept of expecting Black people to have seen it.

He didn’t make a point to catch up during the months in between, and even after he ended the game with a walk-off homer into the corn, he didn’t sound especially moved.

Anderson’s wife has seen the movie, he said, but he never has. Would he watch it now, as the star of its revival?

“I might, I don’t know,” he said, smiling. “But I gave everybody a memory tonight, definitely. To leave a mark is a great accomplishment for me and I’m thankful for that moment, for sure.”

Nobody needs to force “Field of Dreams” upon him when he’s doing his own incredible things with the game, and I think there’s a larger lesson here.

Baseball’s going back to the well with another Field of Dreams Game next year, but it’s hard to imagine another game surpassing Thursday night’s drama and narrative power. Not only did the game have six ninth-inning runs and two lead changes, but think of who was involved. I can’t think of a better example of past-meeting-present than Anderson exchanging haymakers with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on farmland.

Baseball might’ve needed Costner to introduce this game, but it got a gift when those three closed it. Major League Baseball has an opportunity to keep spinning it forward.

You read the coverage of the local excitement in Iowa, you watch the unfamiliar surroundings turning professional athletes into goober tourists, and you get the idea that baseball could generate similar success with a domestic barnstorming tour elsewhere. They could support rehabilitation efforts of Negro Leagues parks like Rickwood Field or Hinchcliffe Stadium, or they could hire location scouts to figure out where else they could establish temporary fields with incredible backdrops. With Major League Baseball pulling out of so many areas via contraction of the minor leagues, it could be another way to repair those inroads.

And even if you can’t count the number of fans created by playing baseball in a place it normally isn’t played, “put your best teams and most dynamic players in the most picturesque environments possible” sounds like a winning strategy on its own.

* * * * * * * * *

While Tony La Russa had to miss the game due to unfortunate circumstances (the funeral for his brother-in-law), the White Sox benefited from his absence on the stage. It makes sense that national broadcasts from Fox and ESPN would want to tell his story, because it’s a central theme of the season, but it’s the rare story that’s better told instead of shown. Audio and visuals don’t really do much for him.

Were La Russa in the dugout, Fox cameras probably would have returned to him time and time again, given the booth had a St. Louis guy in Joe Buck, and analyst John Smoltz played for a La Russa and shares Hall of Famer status. With the relatively unknown Miguel Cairo at the helm, La Russa’s part in the proceedings had to be told through the prism of his players, with Buck using Anderson’s description of “Tony’s like the dad, and we’re like the kids; we’re like the bad kids that don’t listen.”

It might not tell the whole story, but it’s accurate enough for how entertaining it is, and better in both aspects than a drop-in crew could do on its own. And when you think about all the people who tuned into the game and getting their first look at these White Sox, you’d rather let the obvious talent and on-field charisma of Anderson, Eloy Jiménez and Michael Kopech do the talking. They’re a way better use of cameras and microphones.

(Photo by Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports)

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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That was so awesome. And I agree that without the movie this wouldn’t have happened, but the concept is really cool on it’s own.

Also, I just saw Ethan Katz walking around an art fair with his family. His son was wearing his 1919 blue Sox hat from yesterday so I said “nice hat,” but otherwise I let him be since it’s his day off 🙂

Greg Nix

One of the rare MLB productions that exceeded my expectations (definitely thanks in large part to TA).

As Cirensica

100% agree. I watched this game so intently as it if was the 7th game of a WS. The shots, the field, the corn fields, the “cornruns” (homeruns), the smiles, the players. It felt there was genuine magic in the air. It was a magical baseball game. It was perfect.

And for not a single moment I thought about the movie, which I watched so many years ago, I don’t even remember it at all, and I don’t care.

Last edited 1 year ago by As Cirensica

I expected it would be fairly sappy, so that didn’t bother me. But Joe Buck calling the game was most unwelcome.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

I had the opportunity to be there and was frankly expecting the worst from an ‘on the ground’ perspective. I really thought it was going to be a primarily made for TV event but it really wasn’t. They did a great job with the fan experience. Some unavoidable logistical challenges about trying to get 8000+ people in and out from the middle of nowhere but even those were relatively well managed.


Outstanding essay, Jim. (I am biased; your aspirations for how the game should be presented jibe with mine.)

Baseball might’ve needed Costner to introduce this game, but it got a gift when those three closed it. Major League Baseball has an opportunity to keep spinning it forward.

The most powerful image of the evening was that final home run trot amid the fireworks. I think it will show up in iconic montages of MLB 30 years from now. I am so glad Tim Anderson has asserted his place in the game’s history, and I look forward to him making more history in the weeks, months, and years ahead.


Especially given the fireworks were unexpected. Just an incredible moment, and you’re absolutely right that TA has earned his spot in countless future MLB montages.

Changed the game.


Last night was pretty great for baseball. I have numerous friends that are not really baseball fans contact me last night and today telling me how great the game was. They also were telling me how it was either the first time or first time in a long time they watched a game from start to finish. That is excellent and I think last night was an overall win for baseball. Although a little less Costner would have been better.


It’s THE topic of the day here, regardless of one’s feelings about baseball. I’ll be curious to know the ratings for the game.


As I recall, 16 years ago was a good year for baseball.


Couldn’t watch last night, so I avoided the internet like the plague until I could watch this morning!

Wow! What a game, it truly felt like a playoff game and I was STRESSED.

October is going to be something to experience this year

To Err is Herrmann

I really like your idea of having MLB Barnstorming on behalf of historic sites in the game. I was going to half-joke that they should consider a Bull Durham game and a Bingo Longo and His Traveling All-Stars game as well. It was a great game, really fun to watch, and even though they laid the nostalgia of this okay movie on way too thick (it seemed Kevin Costner was about to go into a lecture on how the actors employed the Stanislawski method or something), the drama and beautiful setting of the park really made it special. I actually thought there was not going to be an outfield fence, that the park would look as it did in the movie, just corn. This could have added an extra dimension to the game to see which team’s outfielders would have hustled more into the stalks to prevent runs. I think on that point the White Sox would still have won.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

I believe NPB plays (perhaps not this year or last) a few games a year in smaller, more rural, cities. I think MLB would benefit greatly from something like that as this week has shown.


I think my favorite non-baseball moment was when they showed Cease (at least I think it was Cease) taking a bite of a raw ear of corn and quickly discovering why you need to cook those things

Last edited 1 year ago by joewho112

Found it

Joliet Orange Sox

One of the announcers (Smoltz?) actually said that it was news to him that there was a difference between feed corn and sweet corn. He’s not from Illinois.


“Feed” corn isn’t just raw corn. It’s literally a different species that’s only used to feed cows, not the sweet corn that you eat on the Fourth of July. It taste about as good as you’d expect something fed to a cow would taste.


Yeah, I guess. I had it on mute

Trooper Galactus

I found that moment most memorable, sadly, for Buck referring to Cease as Albert Abreu. Seriously, what the fuck, dude?

Maybe Cease met Joe Buck in the hotel lobby and gave Albert Abreu as his fake name. Who would want Joe Buck to know their real name?


An interesting tidbit was the teams not staying at a hotel. Flew in and out of Dubuque the same day


Albert Abreu is a pitcher who wears #84 for the Yankees, so I’m assuming Buck just looked at the number and didn’t realize he was looking at a White Sox player.

Last edited 1 year ago by AshnodsCoupon
Trooper Galactus

I’d buy that if not for he knew who Ethan Katz was.

As Cirensica

Look at this clip…Amazing


That is pretty sweet. Had not seen it. The one I liked is when they showed Britton walking off the field with TA on the scoreboard behind him rounding the bases doing the same hand gesture. Loved it

Last edited 1 year ago by ThisReallySox

I just hope this game helps Tim get more spotlight in the baseball world. All we ever hear is how the sport is missing black stars and yet Tim has been playing at an all-star level for 2-3 years now and still feels like hes somewhat unknown.


The St. Paul Saints had a pig running around on the field between innings at a game I attended several years ago. As an Iowan and as a general believer that the game should take itself less seriously, I would have liked to see a pig run around on the field. Maybe chasing Joe Buck and Tom Verducci.