“If you build it, they will come.” As this iconic line was once whispered to Kevin Costner’s character in the film Field of Dreams, so too did David Pickler hear this voice when he first stepped foot on the hallowed ball field. In what seemed to be an unforeseeable happenstance, after a spur-of-the-moment meeting on a set of bleachers at the movie site, David became an owner of the iconic Field of Dreams. Whether it be happenstance or the consecration by the ghosts of baseball’s past, this partnership led to a historic MLB game in the cornfields of Iowa. But more importantly, it led to a bright future for generations of ballplayers to come.
FIELD OF DREAMS
One of David’s favorite movies is the 1989 baseball drama, Field of Dreams, based on the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. This book-turned-movie became a cultural icon and gave David a dream to visit the titular ball field one day. A day that came sooner than expected…
In July of 2014, while he was serving as Immediate Past President of the National School Boards Association, David was scheduled to give a speech in Indianapolis, Indiana. David organized his schedule to spend an extra day in the area, as he always did, to explore state and engage with the locals. David read in a newspaper about “Ghost Sundays” at the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, Iowa, and to say his interest was piqued is an understatement. When he read further about these captivating Ghost Sundays, he learned that this reoccurring event featured local ballplayers – some whom had even been in the movie – dressed in vintage White Sox uniforms, playing an actual game on the field in front of spectators.
This was an unmissable opportunity for David.
After delivering his speech in Indianapolis, he woke up on 3:00 am on the following morning and hit the road toward Iowa. After driving 300 miles across the cornfields of the Mid-West, and closely listening to his precious GPS, he pulled up to the movie site.
It was just as he’d imagined. It was like stepping foot on sacred soil. It felt like entering baseball’s Mecca. It was a religious experience.
Throwing on a jersey and pulling his bat and glove out of his trunk, David walked up to the field. Quickly realizing he was the first to arrive for this particular Ghost Sunday, he continued to soak in the sights of this incredible place in silent reverence. After a little while, the festivities officially began and, after David participated in a round of catch, settled in to the bleachers to take in the game. It was there that he met a woman by the name of Denise Stillman, a Chicago attorney who just so happened to be the head of a group, Go The Distance Baseball, that was acquiring the field from its original owners, Don Lansing and his wife. This group that Denise was a part of was dedicated to preserving the field for future generations while enhancing educational opportunities and hosting future tournaments.
At this end of this “happenstance” meeting, Denise said, “David, will you join our group?” He gladly said yes and the rest was history.
It is an honor for David to be an owner of the Field of Dreams, an iconic place in movie history. But more importantly, a part of American lore.
For over five years, David has made several trips to the field to participate in the Team of Dreams program. Through Team of Dreams, David has had the honor of playing with Hall of Fame superstars such as Cal Ripken, Jr., Ozzie Smith, Wade Boggs, and Rod Carew. David even had the opportunity to play against the stars of the film Major League including wayward celebrity and former high school pitcher, Charlie Sheen. Dressed in a vintage uniform and entering the ballfield through the cornfield, just like in the movie, Over the years, David has enjoyed sharing these memories from Team of Dreams with his daughter, son, son-in-law, nephew, and close friends.
A Major League Partnership
A highlight for David and Go the Distance Baseball was the historic MLB Field of Dreams, hosted in Dyersville, Iowa on August 12, 2021. After years of negotiations with MLB, The Field of Dreams hosted the Yankees and the White Sox in a cinematic night for the ages. With 8,000 people in attendance in a custom field built just for this game, Kevin Costner hosted this picturesque and nostalgia-filled event for those who hold baseball close to their heart.
There's nothing like sitting in the stands in the middle of nowhere, soaking in the Americana atmosphere, watching our nation's pastime in its most unembellished and beautiful form.
This historic night ended with an amazing play that was truly a Hollywood ending. “An iconic setting was rewarded with an iconic performance at MLB's Field of Dreams Game,” said Jack Baer, writer for Yahoo! Sports. “Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson hit a two-run, walk-off homer to cap off a nine-inning thriller that saw the New York Yankees erase a three-run deficit against AL saves leader Liam Hendriks. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton each hit a pair of two-run homers to take a one-run lead into the bottom of the ninth. After a Seby Zavala walk, Anderson delivered the White Sox response.”
“The homer was the 15h walk-off homer ever hit by the White Sox against the Yankees. The first was hit by none other than Shoeless Joe Jackson, who you may remember playing a major role in "Field of Dreams."
Pickler Companies’ Contribution to this American Institution
Leading up to the MLB at Field of Dreams Game, David played a part in enhancing the grounds of the movie site. Through a personal contribution, a brand-new, grain-bin-inspired gazebo and pavilion were installed. Emblazoned with “Pickler Companies” on its side, this rustic piece of architecture looks perfect among the cornfields.
This field and all of its amenities will positively impact ball players and cinephiles alike for years to come.
“Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.”