The long haul through Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and into Iowa was a snorefest. Generally speaking the boys had always tolerated the changing scenery as a necessary evil but this was a new challenge for them; luckily I had a surprise planned for them for tomorrow.
“Field of Dreams” is a movie about an Iowa farmer who plows his cornfield under to build a baseball diamond hoping that the spirit of Shoeless Joe Jackson will return. We didn’t have to drive through the area but it was a very short detour to Dyersville, Iowa, where the movie set had been built and was still maintained.
“If you build it, he will come,” is the underlying theme of the movie, so as we stood in the surrounding cornfield, Adam whispered those words to my video camera. The old house, the bleachers, the ball diamond, the corn, they all made the movie come to life as Gavin and Adam walked through them. Two days from home, this was the perfect stop to make the end of the trip as good as the beginning, another baseball connection on a Whitehead family vacation.
On the following day amidst fire trucks and other emergency vehicles tending to a blazing car at the side of the interstate we arrived in Chicago late in the afternoon. Karen and I both love this city from past visits so we decided to stay overnight so the boys could see it. Coincidentally, or perhaps fatefully, our first stop was the relatively newly built Comiskey Park. The old stadium was torn down in 1990 to make way for this newer model. Home plate and the batters boxes from the original stadium had been inset in the parking lot so we parked the van in the empty lot about where the left field fence would have been. The boys had a very special moment as they “ran the bases” on their imaginary home run in the big leagues.
There was just enough time remaining for a brief interlude at Chicago’s other baseball shrine Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Built in 1916, its ivy-covered walls are unique to baseball and are recognized the world over. It was closed but we spent a moment reflecting on all the great players and the great games that had taken place at this hallowed location.
If there was one thing that emerged from all our years of travel with the boys it was being able to reinforce a love for the game of baseball for them – something that had been done for me by my father many years ago. Someday I hope they’ll be able to do the same for their children.
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