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I toss the ball to my friend Eric, and he catches it, big-knuckled and loose-limbed. To paraphrase Raymond Carver, what we talk about when we talk about baseball is nothing less than a conversation, by turns loving and competitive, about manhood itself.
A title change (from "Shoeless Joe") and full-page advertisements that don’t even mention the sport can’t mask the fact that at the center of the story stands Shoeless Joe Jackson—wistfully recalling the "smell of the ballpark in my nose and the cool of the grass on my feet. So director Phil Alden Robinson can be excused when he interrupts an interview about his new film and the role of baseball in American life, and insists that he needs to explain the "Robinson theory of my generation." "We’re the first generation in this century not to divest ourselves at 21 of those things that defined us as teenagers," Robinson, 39, says of the baby-boom generation.
— Kevin Hagopian, Penn State University April 21, 1989: No matter how hard Universal Pictures tries to hide it, "Field of Dreams" is a baseball movie. In "Field of Dreams" he returns to life when an Iowa farmer (played by Kevin Costner) tears up his cornfield to build a baseball diamond. It’s also about lost dreams, generational ties and discovering magic in the back yard.
Finally, you speak of what might have happened, as you leave the park sunburned and sticky, bloated with too many Cokes and hot dogs, and serenely happy.
You speak of what just happened -- a triple off the wall in left center, a force play at second, a called strike right down the pipe.
We’ve maintained all those things that defined us as teens.
"We still maintain as options a willingness to wear jeans, to question authority, to listen to rock ’n roll.
Moonlight turns out to be an elderly Main Street hero, and Ray helps to satisfy his last unfulfilled desire.
He travels to Boston to rescue a misanthropic, reclusive writer "Terence Mann" (James Earl Jones, in a character famously modeled on author J. Salinger) with a trip to Fenway Park, and the two then travel deep into the wilds of Minnesota to collect one Archie "Moonlight" Graham, heretofore only the answer to a trivia question.
That, too, is part of the Robinson theory on the baby-boom generation.
"Taking that step into the void symbolized who we are, our legacy of the 60s." But Robinson also makes sure that Costner’s character finds much of his dream at home, in his wife (Amy Madigan) and daughter (Gaby Hoffman).