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An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago White Sox come.
Terence Mann: Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
The Voice: If you build it, he will come.
[last lines] John Kinsella: Well, good night Ray. Ray Kinsella: Good night, John. [They shake hands and John begins to walk away] Ray Kinsella: Hey... Dad? [John turns] Ray Kinsella: [choked up] You wanna have a catch? John Kinsella: I'd like that.
Ray Kinsella: Don't we need a catcher? Shoeless Joe Jackson: Not if you get it near the plate we don't.
Ray Kinsella: So what do you want? Terence Mann: I want them to stop looking to me for answers, begging me to speak again, write again, be a leader. I want them to start thinking for themselves. I want my privacy. Ray Kinsella: No, I mean, what do you WANT? [Gestures to the concession stand they're in front of] Terence Mann: Oh. Dog and a beer.
Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham: Well, you know I... I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn't. That's what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases - stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That's my wish, Ray Kinsella. That's my wish. And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?
Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham: This is my most special place in all the world, Ray. Once a place touches you like this, the wind nevers blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child.
[Ray explains Terence Mann's "pain" to Annie] Ray Kinsella: The man wrote the best books of his generation. And he was a pioneer of the Civil Rights and the anti-war movement. I mean, he made the cover of Newsweek. He knew everybody. He did everything. And he helped shape his time. I mean, the guy hung out with The Beatles! But in the end, it wasn't enough. What he missed was baseball. [Annie looks at Ray's notes] Annie Kinsella: Oh, my God! Ray Kinsella: What? Annie Kinsella: As a small boy, he had a bat named Rosebud.
Ray Kinsella: Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within... y-you came this close. It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it. God, they'd consider it a tragedy. Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham: Son, if I'd only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes... now that would have been a tragedy.
John Kinsella: Is this heaven? Ray Kinsella: It's Iowa. John Kinsella: Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven. [starts to walk away] Ray Kinsella: Is there a heaven? John Kinsella: Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true. [Ray looks around, seeing his wife playing with their daughter on the porch] Ray Kinsella: Maybe this is heaven.
Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham: We just don't recognize life's most significant moments while they're happening. Back then I thought, "Well, there'll be other days." I didn't realize that that was the only day.
Ray Kinsella: Are you Moonlight Graham? Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham: No one's called me Moonlight Graham in fifty years.
Terence Mann: I'm going to beat you with a crowbar until you leave. Ray Kinsella: You can't do that. Terence Mann: There are rules here? No, there are no rules here. [advances with crowbar] Ray Kinsella: You're a pacifist! Terence Mann: [stops] Shit.
Ray Kinsella: [being rushed out of Mann's loft] You've changed - you know that? Terence Mann: Yes - I suppose I have! How about this: "Peace, love, *dope*"? Now get the *hell* out of here!
Ray Kinsella: My name's Ray Kinsella. You used my father's name in one of your stories: John Kinsella. Terence Mann: You're seeing a whole team of psychiatrists, aren't you?
[on who the Voice meant by "Ease his pain."] Ray Kinsella: It was you... Shoeless Joe Jackson: No, Ray. It was YOU.
Annie Kinsella: All right, Beulah, do you want to step outside?
Terence Mann: I wish I had your passion, Ray... Misdirected though it might be, it is still a passion. I used to feel that way about things, but...
Ray Kinsella: I bet it's good to be playing again, huh? Shoeless Joe Jackson: Getting thrown out of baseball was like having part of me amputated. I've heard that old men wake up and scratch itchy legs that been dust for over fifty years. That was me. I'd wake up at night with the smell of the ball park in my nose, the cool of the grass on my feet... The thrill of the grass.
Annie Kinsella: They're talking about banning books again! Really subversive books, like "The Wizard of Oz"... "The Diary of Anne Frank"...
Shoeless Joe Jackson: Man, I did love this game. I'd have played for food money. It was the game... The sounds, the smells. Did you ever hold a ball or a glove to your face? Ray Kinsella: Yeah. Shoeless Joe Jackson: I used to love travelling on the trains from town to town. The hotels... brass spittoons in the lobbies, brass beds in the rooms. It was the crowd, rising to their feet when the ball was hit deep. Shoot, I'd play for nothing!
Terence Mann: Oh, my God. Ray Kinsella: What? Terence Mann: You're from the sixties. Ray Kinsella: [bashfully] Well, yeah, actually... Terence Mann: [spraying at Ray with a insecticide sprayer] Out! Back to the sixties! Back! There's no place for you here in the future! Get back while you still can!
Annie Kinsella: Hey, what if the Voice calls while you're gone? Ray Kinsella: Take a message.
Ray Kinsella: Don't you miss being involved? Terence Mann: I was the East Coast distributor of "involved." I ate it, drank it, and breathed it... Then they killed Martin, Bobby, and they elected Tricky Dick twice, and people like you must think I'm miserable because I'm not involved anymore. Well, I've got news for you. I spent all my misery years ago. I have no more pain for anything. I gave at the office.
Mark: And who is this? Ray Kinsella: That's Terence Mann. Mark: Hi. How're you doing? I'm the Easter Bunny.
Shoeless Joe Jackson: The first two were high and tight, so where do you think the next one's gonna be? Archie Graham: Well, either low and away, or in my ear. Shoeless Joe Jackson: He's not gonna wanna load the bases, so look low and away. Archie Graham: Right. Shoeless Joe Jackson: But watch out for in your ear.
[first lines] Ray Kinsella: [voice over] My father's name was John Kinsella. It's an Irish name. He was born in North Dakota in 1896, and never saw a big city until he came back from France in 1918. He settled in Chicago, where he quickly learned to live and die with the White Sox. Died a little when they lost the 1919 World Series. Died a lot the following summer when eight members of the team were accused of throwing that series. He played in the minors for a year too, but nothing ever came of it. Moved to Brooklyn in '35, married Mom in '38. He was already an old man working at the naval yards when I was born in 1952. My name's Ray Kinsella. Mom died when I was three, and I suppose Dad did the best he could. Instead of Mother Goose, I was put to bed at night to stories of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the great Shoeless Joe Jackson. Dad was a Yankees fan then, so of course I rooted for Brooklyn. But in '58, the Dodgers moved away, so we had to find other things to fight about. We did. And when it came time to go to college, I picked the farthest one from home I could find. This, of course, drove him right up the wall, which I suppose was the point. Officially, my major was English, but really it was the '60s. I marched, I smoked some grass, I tried to like sitar music, and I met Annie. The only thing we had in common was that she came from Iowa, and I had once heard of Iowa. After graduation, we moved to the Midwest and stayed with her family as long as we could... almost a full afternoon. Annie and I got married in June of '74. Dad died that fall. A few years later, Karin was born. She smelled weird, but we loved her anyway. Then Annie got the crazy idea that she could talk me into buying a farm. I'm thirty-six years old, I love my family, I love baseball, and I'm about to become a farmer. And until I heard the Voice, I'd never done a crazy thing in my whole life. Voice: If you build it, he will come.
Ray Kinsella: The only thing we had in common was that she was from Iowa, and I had once heard of Iowa.
Chick Gandil: [the "Black Sox" warm up on the field. Shoeless Joe catches a fly ball hit by Buck Weaver] Show-off! Buck Weaver: Stick it in your ear, Gandil. Eddie Cicotte: Yeah, Gandil. If you'd have run like that against Detroit, I'd have won 20 games that year! Chick Gandil: For Pete's sake, Cicotte, that was 68 years ago! Give it up, will ya? Swede Risberg: Hey, hey! You guys wanna play ball, or what? Buck Weaver: Musclebound jerk. Eddie Cicotte: Oh, yeah? At least I got muscles. Chick Gandil: No! At most you got muscles! Buck Weaver: [returns to home plate] [to Cicotte] Buck Weaver: Come on, asshole! Pitch! Swede Risberg: [motioning to Ray and Karin, who are in the stands] Weaver... Be nice. Buck Weaver: [embarrassed, to Karin] Sorry, kid. Karin Kinsella: It's okay. I don't mind.
Ray Kinsella: The Voice is back. Annie Kinsella: Oh, Lord. You're supposed to build a football field now?
Ray Kinsella: [about the reclusive Terence Mann] OK, the last interview he ever gave was in 1973. Guess what it's about. Annie Kinsella: Some kind of team sport.
Ray Kinsella: What are you grinning at, you ghost? Shoeless Joe Jackson: If you build it... [nods toward John Kinsella] Shoeless Joe Jackson: ... HE will come.
Mark: Admit it, Ray. You've never liked farming. Ray Kinsella: That's not true. Mark: It is true. You don't know the first thing about farming. Ray Kinsella: Yes I do. I know a lot about farming. I know more than you think I know. Mark: Then how could you plow under your major crop? Ray Kinsella: [feigning puzzlement at this word] What's a crop?
Annie Kinsella: Terence Mann was a voice of reason during a time of great madness. Where others were chanting, "Burn, baby, burn", he was talking about love and peace and prosperity. He coined the phrase, "Make love, not war". I cherished every one of his books, and I dearly wish he had written some more. And if you experienced even a little bit of the sixties, you would feel the same way, too. Beulah: [indignantly] I *experienced* the sixties. Annie Kinsella: No, I think you had two fifties and moved right into the seventies.
[Archie's at bat and is almost hit by the pitcher's throws, twice] Archie Graham: Hey, ump, how 'bout a warning? Clean-shaven Umpire: Sure, kid. Watch out you don't get killed.
Ray Kinsella: This is my corn. You people are guests in my corn.
Terence Mann: Ray, there was a reason they chose me, just as there was a reason they chose you and this field. Ray Kinsella: Why? Terence Mann: I gave an interview. Ray Kinsella: What interview? What are you talking about? Terence Mann: The one about Ebbets Field. The one that charged you up and sent you all the way out to Boston to find me. Ray Kinsella: You lied to me. Terence Mann: Well, you were kidnapping me at the time, you big jerk! Ray Kinsella: Well, you lied to me! Terence Mann: You said your finger was a gun! Ray Kinsella: That's a good point. Terence Mann: Ray. Ray. Listen to me, Ray. Listen to me. There is something out there, Ray, and if I have the courage to go through with this, what a story it'll make: "Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa".
[after Dr. Graham crosses the foul line to help save Karin] Mark: [suddenly able to see the White Sox players] Where did all of these baseball players come from?
The Voice: Ease his pain.
Karin Kinsella: Daddy? Ray Kinsella: In a minute, Karin! Karin Kinsella: There's a man out there, on your lawn.
Ray Kinsella: See if you can hit my curve. [Shoeless Joe lines the next pitch back through the box, knocking Ray off the mound] Ray Kinsella: Yeah. Yeah, you can hit the curve ball.
Ray Kinsella: I think I know what "If you build it, he will come" means. Annie Kinsella: Ooh... why do I not think this is such a good thing? Ray Kinsella: I think it means that if I build a baseball field out there that Shoeless Joe Jackson will get to come back and play ball again. Annie Kinsella: [staring in disbelief] You're kidding. Ray Kinsella: Huh-uh. Annie Kinsella: Wow. Ray Kinsella: Yeah. Annie Kinsella: Ha. You're kidding.
Chisolm Newspaper Publisher: [Reading Doc Graham's obituary] ... and there were times when children could not afford eyeglasses, or milk, or clothing. Yet no child was ever denied of these essentials, because in the background, there was always Dr. Graham. Without any fanfare or publicity, the glasses, or the milk, or the ticket to the ballgame found their way into the child's pocket. Terence Mann: You wrote that? Chisolm Newspaper Publisher: The day he died. Terence Mann: You're a good writer. Chisolm Newspaper Publisher: [pats shoulder] So are you.
[Ray and Annie are talking on the phone] Ray Kinsella: Hey, Annie. Guess what? I'm with Terence Mann! Annie Kinsella: Oh, my God! You kidnapped him!
Ray Kinsella: What you grinning at, you ghost?
[as the players disappear into the cornfield] Eddie Cicotte: I'm melting. I'm melting. [fades away laughing] Ray Kinsella: That is so cool.
The Voice: Go the distance.
Ray Kinsella: By the time I was ten, playing baseball got to be like eating vegetables or taking out the garbage. So when I was 14, I started to refuse. Could you believe that? An American boy refusing to play catch with his father. Terence Mann: Why 14? Ray Kinsella: That's when I read "The Boat Rocker" by Terence Mann. Terence Mann: [rolling his eyes] Oh, God. Ray Kinsella: Never played catch with him again. Terence Mann: You see? That's the sort of crap people are always trying to lay on me. It's not my fault you wouldn't play catch with your father.
Annie Kinsella: At least he is not a book-burner, you Nazi cow.
Ray Kinsella: I'm 36 years old, I love my family, I love baseball, and I'm about to become a farmer. But until I heard the voice, I'd never done a crazy thing in my whole life.
Annie Kinsella: [trying to understand the situation] I mean, Shoeless Joe... Ray Kinsella: He's dead. Died in '51; he's dead. Annie Kinsella: He's the one they suspended, right? Ray Kinsella: Right. Annie Kinsella: He's still dead? Ray Kinsella: Far as I know.
Mark: You build a baseball field, and you sit here, and stare at NOTHING.
[Mark goes out to the field, where Ray and Karin are watching the players] Mark: So, I thought you were going to watch some game? Ray Kinsella: Well, it's more of a practice since there's only eight of them. Mark: Eight of what? Ray Kinsella: [motioning toward the players] Them. Mark: [looking around at the field, unable to see the players] Who them? Ray Kinsella: [emphatically, not realizing that Mark can't see the players] Them them.
Karin Kinsella: Daddy, there is a man on your lawn.
[Shoeless Joe Jackson walks into the cornfield and disappears. Ray turns to his wife] Ray Kinsella: We're keeping this field.
[Ray winds up on the mound] Ray Kinsella: I'm pitching to Shoeless Joe Jackson...
Shoeless Joe Jackson: [as "Moonlight" Graham walks off the field for the last time] Hey, rookie! You were good.
Mark: When did these ballplayers get here?
Ray Kinsella: I have just created something totally illogical.
Annie Kinsella: Ray! He's my favorite writer too, but what's Terence Mann got to do with baseball?
Ray Kinsella: It's okay, honey. I... I was just talking to the cornfield.
Annie Kinsella: If you build what, who will come? Ray Kinsella: He didn't say.
[Terence Mann is about to call his concerned father about his "disappearance"] Terence Mann: [chuckling to himself in disbelief] What do I tell him?
Ray Kinsella: Where'd they come from? Shoeless Joe Jackson: Where did WE come from? You wouldn't believe how many guys wanted to play here. We had to beat 'em off with a stick. Archie Graham: Hey, that's Smokey Joe Wood. And Mel Ott. And Gil Hodges! Shoeless Joe Jackson: Ty Cobb wanted to play, but none of us could stand the son-of-a-bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it!
Shoeless Joe Jackson: What's with the lights? Ray Kinsella: Oh, all the stadiums have them now. Even Wrigley Field. Shoeless Joe Jackson: Makes it harder to see the ball. Ray Kinsella: Yeah, well, the owners found that more people can attend night games. Shoeless Joe Jackson: [Shakes his head] Owners.
Mark: You're going to lose your farm, pal. Ray Kinsella: Come on, it's so big - I mean, how can you lose something so big? Annie Kinsella: He misplaced the house once. Ray Kinsella: Yeah, but it turned up two days later, didn't it?
Ray Kinsella: I did it all. I listened to the voices, I did what they told me, and not once did I ask what's in it for me. Shoeless Joe Jackson: What are you saying, Ray? Ray Kinsella: I'm saying, what's in it for me?