Dreamfield is a story of baseball, faith, time travel, and almost everything I love about life in Springfield, Missouri. Oddly enough, it started out as non-fiction.
I had collected a folder full of baseball stories I hadn’t included in any other book. Stories of epic Opening Day adventures at Kauffman Stadium with friends. Stories of hilariously odd trips to the batting cages at Fun Acre. Stories of some of the neat people I’ve met simply because of a love of baseball. There were also a couple of baseball stories I wanted to live and I figured that if I committed to the project, I’d find a way to bring those stories to life. I had played around with a couple of outlines and felt good enough to start piecing the manuscript together.
And then I broke my ankle. The broken ankle shifted my synapses and the book-now-known as Dreamfield shifted with it eventually becoming my first fiction effort. Even though none of the folder full of stories were included in the book, it’s still the same book. Trusting a gut instinct I set the book in 1992, my senior year in high school, and had fun with pop culture references and highlighting some of the joys and struggles of pre-internet life.
Today is the first day of Kaylea’s senior year in high school. I remember thinking back in February that, if I was able to keep playing catch all year, I’d be tossing the ball on the first day of her senior year. I consciously reserved today for some of my favorite people who attend Central High School.
“I am so stressed already,” were the first words Kaylea muttered as she climbed into the Bryan family Millennium Falcon. “This year is really going to push me.” She talked through her schedule, taking a few deep breaths as she relayed her ever-growing To Do List.
We drove to Phelps Grove Park where we connected with Carson and Asa. Carson’s on Cabinet this year and is already gearing toward the blood drive next week. Asa’s in debate, where he and I met a couple years ago when I was a judge, and greeted future Central students at Pipkin Middle School as part of Central’s IB Ambassadors program.
All three expressed joy in seeing friends today and rattled off extensive answers when I broached the subject of college applications.
There was a lot of laughing as we tossed the ball around trees and raindrops, trading gloves and swapping stories of summer adventures — from wisdom teeth extractions to trips to Baltimore. I worked up a generous sweat throwing the ball back and forth with each of them, grateful that they took time to simply play catch.
I remember my senior year quite well. A school year full of anxious worry about the future and all the decisions that needed to be made — college and scholarships and what the heck do I want to do with my life? I was so tired of the game of school, essays and tests and GPAs, that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to college. Because I invested so much time and energy in the unknowns, I missed out on the simple joy of everyday life with my friends.
At the risk of sounding like an old man, I offered my best advice to these phenomenal representatives of the class of 2019.
- You are so much more than a number. You are an irreplaceable human being. So are all of your classmates.
- Take time to play every single day.
- Be a hero to underclassmen.
- Treat everyone like it is their birthday.
- Life is not a competition. Celebrate all the successes of your friends and classmates.
- Dream some big dreams and start pursuing them.
- Carpé each and every single diem.
I can’t wait to see what stories these seniors write with their lives this year.
Side note: Jim “The Rookie” Morris (Day #130) wrote this about Dreamfield. “Ethan takes us on an incredible journey to his past. In the process, he learns the important life lessons of never giving up on a dream, being present in your life, and allowing God and your faith to carry you through. This is a must read!”
If you would like a copy of Dreamfield, you can order it from the best bookstore in the country.