DYERSVILLE | Thousands of people from across the country journeyed to the “Field of Dreams” film site this weekend, anxious to catch a glimpse of movie stars or simply play a game of catch during the historic event.
Actor Kevin Costner scored some of the first runs in Saturday afternoon’s star-studded celebrity game. Batting a high ball to right field, Costner took two bases and his team, The Kinsellas, rounded-out their half of the inning with four runs.
Actor Timothy Busfield, who played opposite Costner in the film as his frustrated brother-in-law, led the opposing team called “The Disbelievers.” NBC Sportscaster Bob Costas, Major League Baseball player Bret Saberhagen and even KWWL anchor Ron Steele also took turns at bat.
“Look over your shoulder at all of the fathers and sons and daughters playing catch. They have their own backyards or a park across the street. It means something different to play catch here,” NBC Sportscaster Bob Costas said to Costner and Busfield during a morning interview.
Olivia Corpman, 10, lopped balls back and forth on The Field of Dreams with her sister Chloe, 8, both of Waterloo. Neither have seen the film yet, but after a few pitches Chloe turned to her mother declaring, “Mom! Sign me up for baseball!”
“There aren’t a whole lot of movies made in Iowa, and this one’s not even an hour from Waterloo,” is how Amy Corpman convinced her husband to take the day off work to celebrate the day.
“There’s a magic to this field that wasn’t there when we were shooting. It was just a film location,” said actor Busfield. “What has happened is it’s become a place that even I’m affected by … you can feel the film out there.”
Fans of "Field of Dreams" got their first look at the movie's leading man on Friday.
Costner walked to the infield to have a catch with his two young sons Cayden, 7, and Hayes, 5. Hundreds of onlookers kept a respectful distance, clapping when the boys made a play.
"We don't usually have this many people around when we do this," Costner said.
Later, Costner tossed balls to other anxious tykes on the field like Luke Bloker, 12, of Denver. Bloker said he and Costner tossed about 10 pitches.
"That was awesome," said the second-baseman for his little league team, the Denver Cyclones.
Bloker's parents, Jen and Ben, and his little brother, Drew, relaxed in lawn chairs, ready for the 9 p.m. film screening in right field. The family decided to make the trip to celebrate Father's Day weekend.
"It's one of my favorite movies, and my sons just love baseball," said Ben Bloker.
Busfield strolled around signing baseballs and taking photos with fans. He recalled shooting scenes during the Iowa drought of 1988. The movie site had the only lush corn for miles, he said.
“The corn was dead and bent over and brown everywhere,” he said. “But Larry (Lawrence) Gordon, our producer, who produced ‘Die Hard,’ made sure we had whatever water we needed. And, actually, the corn grew too fast so our shooting schedule was all over the place.”
Terry Kelleher of Dubuque is one of the original “ghost players” cast in the movie. Wearing full 1920s-era White Sox gear, Kelleher, who still volunteers at the movie site, also has fond memories of Costner's love for the game.
“In between takes, when the camera was down and we’d still be on the field, (Kevin Costner) would grab a bat and said ‘you guys line up’ and played pepper with us every single day,” Kelleher said. “The last guy standing, he said, I’ll take you and your wife out for supper.”
To snag a role in the film, Kelleher said, he submitted a resume in a national search for actors to be the ghost players. After a tryout with about 3,000 others, Kelleher and a few other Iowa natives were selected for the non-speaking roles.
Henry Engel, 9, dressed to match Kelleher’s squad.
“I like dressing up like big stars,” Engel said.
The mother, Tabitha, scoured the Internet for the costume and organized the surprise visit for her husband, Ryan.
“It is a wonderful father’s day gift,” he said.