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'Field of Dreams' site still has that magic, more than 30 years later

The classic movie continues to capture people's imaginations as Dyersville, Iowa, gets set to host a Major League Baseball game Thursday night.
/ Source: TODAY

Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.

Baseball fans will get quite the celestial sight when the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees play Thursday in the "Field of Dreams" game in Dyersville, Iowa, where the classic 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” was shot.

The matchup marks the first time a Major League Baseball game will be played in Iowa, proving that if you build a stadium, they will come. The game was initially scheduled to be played between the White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals last year, but was canceled due to the pandemic.

Kevin Costner famously played Ray Kinsella in the "Field of Dreams" movie.Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

The film, which was nominated for three Academy Awards, including best picture, has become an integral part of the town, with the field and a museum attracting tourists. The movie was based on the W.P. Kinsella book “Shoeless Joe,” a reference to “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of the players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox banned from baseball after being accused of throwing the World Series.

"I think it’s just the enduring story of goodness, of connection, of family, of people being able to have that second chance," "If You Build It" exhibit curator Amanda Schwartz told TODAY about the appeal of the field.

The “Ray Loves Annie” carving was made by Costner, in character as Ray Kinsella, during filming of the movie.Joshua Janiak

Don Lansing’s family owned the farm where the movie was shot and said they scrapped the idea of planting corn once production wrapped up.

“Well, I knew Universal Studios put a lot of work in and it was just so beautiful that it was immaculate, that I couldn't possibly do it,” he said. “I mean, even when some of the crew members left, they told me there's magic out here.”

“It's a mecca. It's very, very quiet, and you will see that people don't come out here and scream and holler,” his wife, Becky, said.

“They leave the place and they thank me for it and they encourage me to keep on keeping it so that they can bring their children back and now they're bringing their grandkids back,” Don Lansing said.

Some local ballplayers emerge from the corn field.Joshua Janiak

The Lansings sold the property years ago to Denise Stillman, who had big plans for the field before she died of cancer.

“She couldn't speak anymore when she was really sick and she was still emailing Major League Baseball, so she knew she wasn't going to see this, but she believed in it so much,” said her husband, Tom. “And I think that commitment and I think her spirit lives on here because of it.”

The game will actually be played in a stadium that seats 8,000 fans specially built for the occasion. Only Iowa residents could purchase tickets, while everyone else can watch the live broadcast on Fox at 7 p.m. ET.

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