I used to be an email friend with W. P. Kinsella, the author of Shoeless Joe, the book which inspired my favorite movie Field of Dreams. About five years ago, after describing to him a couple of my ideas for baseball stories I wanted to write and baseball projects I wanted to live he replied, “It is the fiction writer’s job to create weird characters, but I wouldn’t want to know any of them in real life.” I took it as a compliment.
Dreamfield is one of those projects we discussed.
Dreamfield is simply a feel-good book about everything and everyone I love.
I love Springfield, Missouri — the place “where dreams come true” according to a 5 Pound Apparel t-shirt. I love Andy’s Frozen Custard and Fun Acre’s batting cages and Springfield Cashew Chicken and Kickapoo High School and then-Southwest Missouri State University. I love all four seasons, rolling green hills, and strangers who smile and hold the door for you. I hope Dreamfield readers might visit Springfield and think, “That is just like in the book.”
I love my friends. Almost every character in the book is loosely based on someone in my life. Friends are one of God’s greatest gifts and I am incredibly grateful for the patience and love my friends have shown me over the years, especially through my awkward junior high and high school years. I hope Dreamfield readers might remember their friends who stood by them through their awkwardness.
I love baseball and how it helps us to better understand ourselves and our nation’s history. I can’t read and write about baseball paying attention to the numbers and statistics and detailed analyses; I write about baseball from my heart, like a 4-year old who’s at his first game. The scene at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is one of my favorite chapters in the book.
I tried to get as much of my family in this book as possible, including a Christmas trip to my grandmother’s house. I hope Dreamfield readers are blessed to have as supporting a family as I do.
Jim “The Rookie” Morris once told me God used baseball, what Jim was most passionate about, to reassure Jim that God is always there. As I get older and my baseball fandom still borders on the fanatical side, I am amazed at how much this simple game teaches me about loving my neighbor (those who cheer for the Blue Jays), about forgiveness, and about clinging to hope through the worst of circumstances. Faith is an integral part of this story because my faith is still shaping who I am.
I was once given the advice to imagine writing books for a jury of only twelve people. For Dreamfield my jury was considerably smaller. I imagined I was writing for Buck O’Neil, Ray Kinsella, Byron Borger, and Joe Posnanski. I still don’t know what the jury thinks of the book.
In our world, there is so much pain and hurt and the media focuses on these stories with every 24-hour cycle. For friends who take the time to read Dreamfield, my hope is they will be inspired to chase whatever dreams are in their hearts. I also hope they’d be willing to swap baseball stories over a game of catch and a Dr Pepper.
Baseball tells the best stories.