In the film “Field of Dreams,” Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) lives with his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan), and daughter, Karin (Gaby Hoffmann), on a corn farm in Iowa. Ray is concerned about the broken relationship with his late father, John Kinsella (Dwier Brown), who is an avid baseball fan. While Ray is walking through the cornfield one day, he hears a nagging voice whispering to him, “If you build it, he will come.” This is the initial vision of seeing a baseball field in the cornfield and the great “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) standing in the middle of the ball field. With Annie’s permission, Ray plows under part of the cornfield even though it will create a financial hardship for them.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, I played many pick-up baseball games on another field of dreams. We called it the S-Curve field. It was within walking distance from where I lived in Oil City, Pa. It was located in a wooded area off a dirt road at an S-curve. I do not know who may have laid it out years before we started to play on the field. It was always there in my mind. The infield was all dirt and very rocky and hard. Almost daily in the summertime, twenty young boys from my neighborhood would gather at the S-Curve field. Two of us would take turns being the “captains.” We would choose our teammates after throwing a bat up in the air and hand by hand we would go to the bat’s knob to see who chose first.
Then the game would begin. There were no umpires. Thus there were many arguments as to who was safe or out, a strike or a ball, an error or a hit. Once in a while, those fights would even become physical. The police were not called nor were lawyers ever involved. In the end, we learned to shake hands and continue the game. Also, many of us pretended to be one of our favorite professional baseball players when we came up to bat. For me, I dreamt of being Mickey Mantle and replacing him in centerfield at Yankee Stadium.
All those baseball games at the S-Curve field taught me many lessons that have carried me through to this day. First and foremost, we bonded together as friends. We laughed, cried, shouted for joy when our team won or hoped for a better result the next time we played after our team lost. When we had disagreements, for the most part, we tried to work them out or compromise as best we were able to. We all left that field each time as friends and returned the next day to start all over again.
Baseball can teach us many lessons as a Christian and in life: we have to work together; we may disagree but let’s try to do so agreeably; we all make errors or strikeout at times; we have to move on regardless of the outcome; we have to give life our best. As Babe Ruth said: “Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!” The same can be said for us as Christians and life in general. Never allow the fear of mistakes or failures to keep you from becoming a better Christian or person. As a postscript, a few years ago when I was in Oil City, I drove to that S-Curve field. I was saddened to see that it was overgrown and no longer playable as a ballfield. Another lesson learned, time marches on.
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