FOR 53 years Don Lansing has lived in Dyersville, Iowa, on the
100-acre farm that his family has called home since 1906. Don
was born in the farmhouse. He has raised corn and soybeans since
1979, when he bought the farm from his father, LaVern.
Hollywood discovered Dyersville (pop. 3,800) in 1987, when Sue
Riedel, who worked for the Iowa Film Commission, was scouting a
location for a baseball movie that was going to star Kevin
Costner. She drove over a knoll and saw Lansing's white
clapboard house amid the rolling cornfields. "Immediately, I
knew that was the one," says Riedel. Lawrence Gordon, one of the
film's producers, then negotiated with Lansing and his
neighbors, Al and Rita Ameskamp, to turn parts of their
adjoining farmland into a simple ball field.
On April 20, 1989, the movie, Field of Dreams, premiered in
Dubuque before opening the next day in theaters across the U.S.
Two weeks later the first visitor arrived at Lansing's farm,
drawn by the same karma that made the movie a box-office hit and
a cult classic.
"He was some guy driving from New York City to California,"
recalls Lansing. "He had just seen the movie, and said he had to
see the field before it was plowed up. If only he had known what
What has followed has been a steady stream of visitors--nearly
300,000 through last November--from around the country and the
world. Men and women, old and young, come for a day (or more)
with camcorders, coolers, bats, balls and gloves. They celebrate
birthdays and wedding anniversaries. One man sprinkled his
father's ashes over the pitcher's mound. Last July, presidential
candidate Pat Buchanan gave a speech in rightfield.
Becky DuBuisson was a visitor too. "My aunt and I had been
planning a car trip across America in 1994," says DuBuisson,
whose late husband had been a baseball fanatic. "Then I started
having this one dream over and over. I had to be at the Field of
Dreams at midnight on New Year's Eve with a hot dog and a root
DuBuisson called Lansing when she got to Dyersville and asked
for permission to fulfill her dream. "I usually don't allow
people to come in the middle of the night," Lansing says, "but
it seemed so important to her."
When DuBuisson and her aunt, Sheila Henning, arrived at
Lansing's farm at midnight, they found the ball field covered
with two inches of snow. They ran the basepaths. "It was so
peaceful," says Becky. "We stayed for an hour."
The next day Becky and her aunt returned. Don was shoveling snow
from his driveway. "I walked up to him and said, 'I'm Becky. I
wanted to introduce myself and thank you....'"
Don interrupted. "Thanks. I knew you'd come back."
After returning home to Boulder, Colo., Becky, 42, stayed in
contact with Don, a lifelong bachelor. Soon, she was flying to
Iowa to visit him on weekends. On July 26 they became engaged.
"It's very weird," admits Becky. "But that field is a magnet for
The Ameskamps and the Lansings work hard to maintain the field's
pristine look and aura. They do the groundskeeping themselves.
They won't allow billboards or corporate shindigs, and they no
longer allow the filming of commercials. They also no longer
allow weddings, which is why Don and Becky were married at
Dyersville's Basilica of St. Francis Xavier on Feb. 10. There is
no admission charge at the Field of Dreams, which is open daily
from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April 1 through the end of October.
But the Lansings and the Ameskamps operate separate souvenir
stands, the proceeds from which offset the maintenance costs.
"We try to give everybody what they saw in the film," says Al
Ameskamp. "If we ever sold out, turned this into anything like a
major league place, nobody would come. The dream would be over."
COLOR PHOTO: CRAIG BLANKENHORN The Dyersville field has drawn thousands of visitors, young and old, since the film was released. [Children playing baseball on field in Dyersville, Iowa]