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Going the Distance
Editor's Note: This article is a thank you note wrapped in to the story of how the Ghost Players and the DreamCatcher team have inspired and supported me through the years. I am blessed to know them all. - Suzie Wright, Ghost Player Newsletter Editor
Decades ago, when W.P. Kinsella wrote those words “Go the Distance”, I am sure he had no clue how far people would go. I heard those words for the first time at a Naval base movie house more than a thousand miles away from my hometown; a hometown that just so happened to be in Iowa. I first heard of the Ghost Players and their “Greatest Show on Dirt” while my family had journeyed back home for military leave. Many years later when my husband ended his naval career, we headed out on the 1,000-mile journey back home. It was not until 1997 when I stepped on to the Field of Dreams for the first time. It was not a Ghost Sunday and so there were just my relatives and a few other tourists running the bases. The place was every bit as magical as it seemed in the movie. I never took the chance to see the Ghost Players perform in person before they hung up their cleats and left the dugouts. My first chance to see the Ghost Players work was through their website as I watched the trailer to their film in 2008. These men were incredible, generous, and talented. Their passion to teach children baseball skills and remind “us of all that once was good” was unfailing, even though they had retired.
Later that year I would join the DreamCatcher Productions writing team for the Ghost Player website and began interviewing the team members so that I could help write and edit the book, Travels with Ghosts and Other Tales. The documentary, Ghost Player: Relive the Magic, finished and before it ended, I saw my name scroll past on the film’s credits. This was my first film credit and it is very dear to me.
While writing the book, I learned of the thousands of miles the Ghost Players had travelled to share the magic of baseball with fans across the globe and of their special missions to dozens of US Military bases around the world. While in Asia, they had even toured on the USS Dubuque, a ship named after my hometown, which is located just 26 miles from the original Field of Dreams. That ship has since been decommissioned and the ship’s bell has returned to Dubuque. More distances travelled.
In 2009, the Ghost Players came out of retirement to play a ballgame with the US Military All-Stars for an event called Patriot Night at the Ballpark. I may well have been the loudest fan in the stands or maybe just one of the proudest.
Over the years, I have continued to write for the Ghost Players and for DreamCatcher Productions. At times, DreamCatcher has even let me pick up a mic or run a camera. I have even added a dozen shorts and another feature to my list of film credits. I have seen the Ghost Players go the distance. Their work inspired me to go the distance too.
This spring I finished producing my first feature-length documentary, No Boundaries. It is a film about distance as well. No Boundaries was recently named an official selection of the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival in the Best of Iowa category. The film will hold its world premiere as part of the same festival that Ghost Player screened at two years ago. As a young girl, I had joined an organization that would teach me about going the distance six long years before Kinsella would publish his novel Shoeless Joe that would later be adapted into Field of Dreams. The organization was the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps.
For more than 50 years, the organization has inspired musicians and artists much like the Ghost Players have inspired baseball fans. Each year the corps members march hundreds of hours and travel back and forth across the country. Last year the Colts’ performance program was names the Field of Dreams and they even began their season by visiting the movie site to gain a little perspective and maybe glean a little of the magic. All who marched in the corps were younger than the movie.
Two years ago, while at a volunteer meeting for the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, I met Molly Kreiss, she too had marched in the corps and she had a dream about a movie. She wanted to make a movie that would introduce the corps to the world through an insider’s perspective. No Boundaries allows the viewers a chance to get the drummer’s perspective and see the crowds from the flag line in much the same way Ghost Player: Relive the Magic allowed the fans to see the hearts and humor of the Ghost Players.
Last fall the film festival screened a rough-cut preview of the film as part of a special outdoor screening. The film has been reedited, new interviews have been inserted, and more music was made, posters have been printed and tickets are on sale. During the festival, the film will have a sneak preview screening on Friday, April 25 at 9AM and the World Premiere will be Saturday, April 26 at 1:00PM, and another screening on Sunday, April 27 at 9AM.
It would be a lot easier waiting for the premiere if I had James Earl Jones assure me of that same promise he made so long ago during the end of the Field of Dreams - “people will come”.
This is a photo of the Field of Dreams Ghost Players and members of the US Military All-Star Baseball Team coming out of the corn.