“Build it and they will come.” And they most certainly did as I along with several hundred others made the trek to the Field of Dreams movie site last night. During the summer, there are Ghost Sunday games where the “ghosts” emerge from the cornfield in the wool, vintage baseball uniforms just like in the movie and play baseball with kids from the audience. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First off, this place really is in the middle of nowhere. Thank goodness for GPS because I was driving in nothing but cornfields for a long time with only an occasional house popping up here and there. And then I saw the sign! (Also please forgive the horrible quality of these photos. I was having technical issues all night.)
I showed up about 15 minutes before game time and wasn’t expecting the place to be as packed as it was. I was one of a solid 200-300 cars parked in another cornfield you had to cross to get to THE cornfield.
It was pretty cool to walk up the driveway to see the house is still there and families lining the field in lawn chairs and on blankets, all waiting to watch the ghosts come out of the cornfield and play ball.
It is crazy to me to think that this movie came out 26 years ago and this place still draws huge crowds. I think it shows the power of baseball.
Five minutes after I laid out my beach towel, I heard the music from the movie and got goosebumps. I turned around and saw a player come out of the cornfield. Needless to say, I turned into a little kid again watching as all of them came out of the corn together.
They all jogged into the field and introduced themselves. About five of the guys who play on the Ghost team were in the movie 26 years ago. Their sons have even taken up playing for the team which is kind of cool. Another guy they introduced carries a Screen Actor’s Guild card and gets royalties every time Field of Dreams airs because he had one line: Look out! He joked that his last royalty check was for $9.18. It was really cool to hear them talk about how they’ve toured all over the world and have been to 47 states. I guess I never really thought about just how far-reaching baseball is. They asked who had traveled the furthest and you hear answers like Arkansas, Washington, Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
Now for the main event, the game itself. Well, I call it a game. They called it a show. Each player picked a few kids out of the crowd to hit and play against them. It turns into shenanigans using the kids because the team never gets an out. One kid came up to bat and the catcher asked him a question. The kid turned around to answer it and they threw a ball past him for strike one. A really small boy came up to bat and they announced him as recently retired MLB star Derek Jeter. The kid took a practice swing and they said he was a big hitter before the guys went all the way back into the cornfield for him to hit. It was funny and cute. Later in the game, the third base stands all said together catcher’s got a big butt and they grabbed some water and tossed it into the stands. They did warn us that it was an interactive show.
After the game, they stayed and signed autographs and took pictures for every person that came out to the game. It was cool to see. And to think, a baseball movie released 26 years ago could bring thousands of strangers together in the middle of an Iowa cornfield……
Since the invention of baseball, there have been close to 20 sets of twin brothers who have spent time in the major leagues and the Petersons are looking to join their ranks.
Eric and Pat Peterson grew up in Delaware and have played on the same team with each other through high school, travel ball, and even to college. The pair started their college careers at Temple University.
“Temple was our only offer out of high school so we took it,” Pat said. “And after Temple University said they were cutting the baseball program, we transferred to NC State together.”
But the decisions were made by each brother individually.
“It wasn’t like we both talked about it and decided to make that decision together. We each made the decision to go to NC State,” Pat said. “It was fairly close to home. There was stuff to do and the campus was nice so I chose to go there. My brother just happened to really like it and want to go there too.”
Fast forward to the summer of 2014 and the Petersons are in Rhode Island playing summer ball. It’s draft day and the pair are leaving their hotel room to head to a game. Pat got the call first after being drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 23rd round of the 2014 draft. Despite the joy of being drafted, Pat said it left him a little flustered as well.
“It was great. I was extremely happy to be drafted and move on to the next step of my baseball career,” Pat said. “But at the same time I was nervous and didn’t know how to react because my brother still hadn’t been picked.”
An hour or two passed by before the Houston Astros called Eric Peterson’s name in the 37th round to the brothers’ relief.
“Draft day felt extremely long and I could tell Pat was uneasy and flustered. We have been wanting to play professional baseball since we were kids,” Eric said. “To get that chance has been a dream come true for us.”
The turnaround was quick as the twins were drafted on Saturday and reported to their respective teams by the following Tuesday. Both were promoted to Class-A in 2015 with Eric joining the Quad Cities River Bandits and Pat joining the Clinton Lumberkings. While they played two hours apart last season, the pair play less than an hour away from each other this season. The proximity gave the twins the opportunity to live together.
“Through the River Bandits, I was able to get in touch with a host family in Le Claire. As I was driving to their house, I saw a sign for Clinton that said it was 20 miles away,” Eric said. “It seemed perfect because it was about halfway between both of the cities we play in and we had an extra bed. I asked my host family if it would be possible for my brother to live with them too and they said yes.”
The Petersons have turned a few heads with their similarities. Both stand around 6’4” weighing roughly the same.
“Everyone thinks we’re identical twins,” Eric said. “But we’re fraternal twins who just happen to look the same.”
But they are distinctly different in their pitching. Eric is a right-handed reliever while Pat is a left-handed starter.
“I tend to focus on off-speed stuff and not so much on speed,” Pat said. “And I hate to admit it but my brother throws harder than me.”
The brothers said playing against each other has felt weird at times but they are thankful to have someone else there to help them progress through their respective careers.
“It’s different being separated because we can’t talk to each other in the dugout and tell each other what we’re doing wrong,” Eric said. “But it’s fun because we talk about it whenever we get home.”
“When we play each other he can see what I’m doing,” Pat said. “It’s like having another teammate because he can tell me what I need to fix and he knows my style. I mean, we’ve played baseball together since we were five.”
With the end of the 2015 season almost in the books, the Petersons said they are focusing on having a relaxing yet productive off-season and have loved every minute of sharing the experience together.
“I come home at the end of the day and know I have a sounding board and someone to talk to about how to get better,” Eric said. “He always has something to say and has constructive criticism.”
“It’s been a great season. I think we’ve pushed each other to be better,” Pat said. “It’s been a fun year for us.”