‘Field of Dreams’ actor to slide into Eastwood Field
Dwier Brown took the advice of the movie that provided his most famous role — “If you build it, they will come.
Brown played John Kinsella, the father of Kevin Costner’s character in the 1989 film “Field of Dreams.” and he now is one of the owners of the Baseball Hall of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, where the movie was filmed.
He will be in Niles on Sept. 30 for “Dinner on the Diamond” at Eastwood Field. The fundraiser for Shepherd of the Valley’s Shepherd Foundation will include a dinner catered by Cockeye BBQ with seating on the field, a screening of the movie on the scoreboard and a presentation and Q&A with Brown.
During a phone interview this week, Brown said a ballpark is a perfect place to watch the movie about fathers and sons and the game that bonds them.
“It’s pretty interesting. I was at a screening of ‘Field of Dreams’ at Fenway (in Boston), and I was surprised how well it plays,” he said. “Just on the Jumbotron, it obviously isn’t a pristine viewing of the movie, but the idea that it’s on a field is pretty cool … I’m used to the days of drive-ins, so it’s nice to see a movie where you don’t expect it to be.”
Brown has seen “Field of Dreams” countless times, and when it’s shown at events where he is speaking, the time when the crowd is watching the movie is his chance to relax and prepare. That said, the movie still can suck him in when he comes across it.
“I don’t sit around my house watching it because I do host screenings,” Brown said. “But I find myself when the movie is playing, it’s a hard movie to walk away from. When it comes up on your feed or your TV screen, I find myself going, ‘Oh, this part is coming. I’ll just watch this.’ And it reminds you of this other part coming up, and you end up watching the whole movie.”
He also has seen the movie on a portable screen at the diamond carved out of an Iowa cornfield where “Field of Dreams” was made for a 25th anniversary screening.
He’s returned to the site many times over the years for different events, and he always noticed this brick-and-limestone building that was for sale.
“Gosh, it was so beautiful,” he said. “It was built in 1860, and it was amazing to think it was built when Abraham Lincoln was President. I couldn’t figure out why nobody would buy it. It was in pretty bad disrepair. But when I grew up in Ohio, my dad was repairing this 150-year-old tear-down house, so old buildings don’t scare me.
“I sort of had a Ray Kinsella moment and felt I was supposed to buy this building.”
With a partner, he bought the structure and after a couple of years of repairs, they opened the Baseball Hall of Dreams in May.
The hall is created to celebrate the sport and the people who play it at all levels, especially those who had to overcome obstacles to pursue their dream, from athletes with disabilities to people of color who were kept out of the sport.
“It’s an homage to baseball in all of its forms and the wonderful things it’s brought to people’s lives,” Brown said. “It was a labor of love, and we built it so when people come to Dyersville to visit the movie site, they have somewhere else to go.”
It’s also the site for the If You Build It Exhibit, a previously existing display devoted to the making of “Field of Dreams.”
“Dinner on the Diamond” won’t be Brown’s first visit to the Mahoning Valley. He spoke at Kent State University at Trumbull in 2019 when the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library picked the W.P. Kinsella book “Shoeless Joe,” which “Field of Dreams” is adapted from, for its One Book One Community celebration.
Brown grew up on a farm in Sharon Center in Medina County, and he’s looking forward to connecting with some of his high school friends when he’s in the area. His brother and sister will be meeting him here for the event, and they plan a quick trip to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pa., after the event.
“My dad was an architect, among other things, and it was always his favorite, and none of us have actually been there,” he said.