“I dream for a living,” said Steven Spielberg.
Some of Spielberg’s dreams have turned into my favorite movies. The Goonies is brilliant. From Sloth’s contagious laugh to Mikey’s motivational speech in the bottom of the wishing well, The Goonies is one of those movies I love introducing to the next generation. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Indiana Jones — all brilliant. Some of Spielberg’s dreams have received enormous criticism from viewing audiences. I am not-so-much a fan of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the sequels to Jurassic Park were quite underwhelming.
I was visiting with a friend recently and asked him about his dreams. He picked up his coffee and took a long sip, then set the steaming mug back on the table, folded his hands, furrowed his brow, and sighed.
“What an incredible question. It has been a long time since someone has given me the permission to dream,” he said. He thought for a few minutes before he started sharing some of his dreams.
It takes courage to dream, and even more moxie and mettle to voice those dreams. The fear of rejection is only surpassed by the fear of epic failure. But exercising our mental faculties to perceive of what may be is the very heartbeat of hope. Regardless of age or past failures or successes, the most important part is to keep dreaming big, bold, ridiculous and beautiful dreams, for sometimes they come true.
Does it even make sense to dream in the middle of a global pandemic?
With schools and businesses and every professional sport canceling in hopes of flattening the curve of the spreading illness, there probably isn’t a worse time to post a dream about playing catch. I should be writing a story about what I’m doing to prepare and the advice I’m giving to my daughters as we try to discern the best way forward.
Trust God with all your heart.
Take deep breaths.
Wash your hands.
Create art and make music and read books.
But as I breathe and read and wash my hands, my brain defaults to its natural state — dreaming big, ridiculous dreams.
“Sometimes a dream almost whispers… it never shouts. Very hard to hear. So you have to, every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear,” Spielberg said.
The dream that’s been stirring in my imagination since January concerns my new book, A Year of Playing Catch. The book will release in September and I’ll be posting updates about it regularly and often. Cover art and pre-ordering (from Hearts & Minds Books!) and subscribing to the email list on the blog, pretty please.
The dream is to organize and participate in the World’s Largest Game of Catch to launch the book into the world. The original record for the largest game of catch was set in Cincinnati during MLB’s All-Star week of 2015 with 1,058 people playing catch. Two years later, 972 pairs (1,944 people) established the record at a Father’s Day event at Willow Creek Community Church.
To set the record, more than 2,000 people playing catch are needed, people willing to toss a ball for five minutes while being watched by a volunteer judge.
The only way I played catch for a year was through the generosity and cooperation of others, and the same is true for setting this audacious world record. But it’s more than just setting a world record for the sake of setting a record. On top of each participant getting a copy of the book and being one of the co-holders of the world record, the event will give back to the Springfield community.
“Make something where you are,” said Jeff Houghton, my catch partner on day #164 and host of The Mystery Hour.
The idea is simple: People will register to participate in the world record attempt, a first guess is $20. The money from the record-setting catch-playing event will be split between two charities.
- The Boys & Girls Club — Investing in the future of the game.
- The ALS Clinic at Cox South Hospital in honor of Coach Howard Bell — remembering the legacy of the game.
A tentative date I have in mind is September 26, the last Saturday of the month. Possible venues could be on Missouri State University or in conjunction with the Springfield Park Board or who knows where. There is time to get the details together — gathering baseballs and finding parking and securing a title sponsor and things I haven’t even begun to consider. I’ve already contacted Rhett of the Play Catch Foundation to help me start getting ducks in a row, or herding cats, or whatever semi-chaotic metaphor you prefer.
Steven Spielberg once said, “All good ideas start out as bad ideas, that’s why it takes so long.”
This might be a brilliant idea. Or this might be incredibly underwhelming if it’s just me, my daughters, and Dad playing catch near a stack of 2,000 books.
September’s six months away, records are made to be broken, and this might be the best chance I have inviting all of my friends to join me in setting a new world record as well as to honor the past and future of the game I love.
Wanna play catch?