Baseball Book Review: “If You Build It” by Field of Dreams’ Dwier Brown

In 1989 (and the years since), Field of Dreams has given many fathers and their children a gift; it has provided the opportunity for a reunion after a long rift, closure after death, and guidance on life’s path– simply by viewing the film,  a movie that pays homage to baseball’s majestic, magical link to the past.

No matter how many times you see it, your eyes will start to water in that pivotal final scene as Ray Kinsella says to his dad, John, “Hey dad…wanna have a catch?” 

“I’d like that,”  John replies.

Actor Dwier Brown, the actor who played John Kinsella in the film, only appears in those final five minutes,but they are arguably the most important minutes of the film.

Over the past 25 years, Dwier has been recognized by fans all over who have told him poignant stories about their fathers and how watching the film changed their lives.

And now, to coincide with the film’s anniversary, Dwier has written a book titled, “If You Build It…” a “funny and moving memoir about Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams.”

Dwier visited Miller Park last homestand and I had the opportunity to interview him; he was also kind enough to sign a copy of the book for me.

I read it in less than two days. So now, here is my review. Spoiler alert: I loved it!

The book follows three different story lines that are woven together as beautifully as the stitches on a baseball.

First, there is Dwier’s recollection of heading to Iowa to film the movie. Fans of the film will love this insider track!

You’ll feel like you’re in the van riding through the cornfield on the way to the shoot as he takes you through the photography shoot for the film’s opening credits, meeting James Earl Jones, his fear of dropping the ball when playing catch with Kevin Costner in the final scene and more.

Second, there are the encounters Dwier has had with fans of the film.

“I have a lot of fathers or sons who come up to me and say they’ve lost their relationship with their father or son… maybe for 15 years they haven’t spoken because of some riff–in some cases they don’t even remember what it was about exactly–but when they saw that movie they managed to take that person, their father or son, to the movie with them, or just took them outside and had a catch with them. And somehow, they managed to just put aside this long history of misunderstandings. That’s happened many times,” Dwier told me.

There are several touching stories like that, and Dwier recounts these in the book, along with others that tell of how people changed their paths in life because of the movie’s message, or how people were able to come to terms with the loss of a loved one through the film.

Finally, there is a back story of Dwier’s childhood and his relationship with his own father, who passed away unexpectedly just a month before he began filming Field of Dreams, and how he struggled to come to terms with it.

Both humorous and heart-wrenching at times, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and most importantly, you’ll relate.

Because no matter what your situation is, the fact is that at some time in your life, you had a father. That relationship and his presence (or absence) has shaped you as an individual and this book will give you pause to consider what that means to you.

And, just in time for Father’s Day, Dwier has given us a gift.  Just like with Field of Dreams, where fathers and children were reunited, sometimes without words, but by simply seeing the film together, “If You Build It…” affords one the same opportunity. Buy your dad (or father figure, mother, friend, etc.) this book. It will likely have the same impact.

Dwier and his wife Laurie are taking a RV tour across the country to promote the book, making stops at many ballparks and other events across the way.

Next on the agenda, though, is a return to Iowa.

Appropriately, a big event is planned to celebrate the film’s 25th Anniversary at the Field of Dreams in Iowa on Father’s Day weekend.

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

 

 

 

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