Filmsite Movie 

Field of Dreams (1989)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Ray and Mann's Discovery of Doc Graham in Chisholm, Minnesota:

Once again, Ray was on the road with the Doobie Brothers' "China Grove" tune playing on the soundtrack - heading westward to Minnesota with Mann. The two shared driving responsibilities. From a gas station, Ray phoned Annie to tell her of his delay in plans, and his reason for going to Minnesota ("an old ball player"). When she hung up the phone, the camera slightly moved to the left to reveal three well-dressed gentlemen (her brother Mark and two others) seated in the farmhouse kitchen. Mark hinted that there were serious financial issues regarding the farm: "Why didn't you tell him?...Annie, you got no choice in the matter."

In the mid-western town of Chisholm, Minnesota, the townsfolk were celebrating their 100th year Centennial (1888-1988). To locate "Moonlight," they entered the main street office of the Chisholm Tribune Press, and inquired of the paper's publisher Veda Ponikvar (Anne Seymour) for the whereabouts of the ex-baseball player. They learned that Graham had given up on baseball, went back to school, and was trained to be a doctor (hence the nickname "Doc" Graham). Then, they were told the shocking news that "Doc" Graham had died in 1972, 16 years earlier.

From "Doc's" death folder in a back-room, the publisher held up an old newspaper clipping about "The Passing of a Legend" and read from her own tribute article:

'And there were times when children could not afford eyeglasses or milk, or clothing. Yet no child was ever denied these essentials, because in the background, there was always Doctor Graham. Without any fanfare or publicity, the glasses or the milk or the ticket to the ball game found their way into the child's pocket.'

Mann suspected that something was "missing" in the grand scheme of things: "Half the towns in North America have a Doc Graham. What makes this one so special we have to travel halfway across the country to find him sixteen years after he died? There's got to be more." In the local bar, Mann interviewed three old-timers who knew Doc Graham and recollected:

  • Man in Bar # 1 (C. George Biasi): "He always wore an overcoat, he had white hair, and he always carried an umbrella"
  • Man in Bar # 2 (Howard Sherf): "I think it (umbrella) got to be a habit, you know, it was something to hang onto. But if you asked him, he really said he used it to beat away his lady admirers"
  • Man in Bar #3 (Joseph Ryan): "Alicia (his wife) - she moved to South Carolina after Doc passed. She passed a couple years later. She always wore blue. The shopkeepers in town would stock blue hats because they knew if Doc walked by, he'd buy one. When they cleaned out his office, they found boxes of blue hats that he never got around to give her. I'll bet you didn't know that"

That night in town, in their room at the Red Line Motel, Mann compared their notes from the day's interviews, and seemed disappointed in how clean a life Doc had led:

No screwing, no drinking, no opium, no midnight abortions, no illegitimate children, no shady finances....Shoeless Joe had a problem. That's why he needed you. This guy doesn't need us.

Ray noticed in the local newspaper that there were reports that Mann's father in Baltimore had reported him missing after his sudden departure. Mann phoned to straighten things out, while Ray took a late-night stroll on Chisholm's Main Street.

Ray's Return To The Year 1972 to Meet With Elderly Doc Graham in Chisholm:

Ray paused in front of the PLAZA movie theatre marquee. And then in the front window of a darkened storefront, Ray did a double-take when he saw a political poster for President Nixon's Re-Election Campaign - from 1972. And then the marquee came into focus behind him - the theatre was playing The Godfather (1972)! To confirm that he had miraculously stepped back in time, he inspected a license plate on a parked car and saw that the registration sticker was from 1972. He realized that "Doc" might still be alive!

He turned and saw an elderly man - with an overcoat and umbrella - taking a stroll down the sidewalk in the foggy air. Ray ran after him, calling out: "Doctor Graham!" and soon was face to face with the elderly, white-haired Dr. Archie "Moonlight" Graham (74 year-old Burt Lancaster in his final theatrical film role). When asked, "Are you 'Moonlight' Graham?", Graham replied: "No one's called me 'Moonlight' Graham in 50 years." As they walked back to Graham's medical office, Ray asked about his aspirations to be a ballplayer. When Archie was a rookie years earlier, he had yearned to make it into the major leagues. After three weeks without action with the New York Giants in 1905, he was allowed to appear in only one inning of one major league game - it was the last day of the season, in the bottom of the 8th inning, when his team's score was far ahead, and the team manager John McGraw directed him to play right field. He never touched the ball: "They never hit the ball out of the infield. The game ended, the season was over." That was the end of his baseball career: "I couldn't bear the thought of another year in the minors. So I decided to hang 'em up." Graham described the end of his dreams:

It was like coming this close to your dreams, and then watch them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time, you don't think much of it. You know, we just don't recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't know that that was the only day.

Graham wanted to know the reason for Ray's intense curiosity about his past: "What's so interesting about a half an inning that would make you come all the way from Iowa to talk to me about it fifty years after it happened?" Ray responded: "I think it's to ask you if you could do anything you wanted, if you could have a-a wish..." - he was interrupted by Graham's straight-forward inquiry: "And you're the kind of man who could grant me that wish?" Graham thought further about his aborted ball career and described his past poignant wishes to fulfill his dream: a chance to bat in the major leagues - in a wonderful monologue with Ray:

Graham: I never got to bat in the major leagues. I'd have liked to have had that chance, just once, to stare down a big-league pitcher. To stare him down, and then just as he goes into his windup - wink! Make him think you know something he doesn't. That's what I wish for. The chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it, to feel the tingle in your arms as you connect with the ball, to run the bases, stretch your 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?
Ray: What would you say if I said yes?
Graham: I think I'd actually believe you.

Ray answered by excitedly promising a place to fulfill Doc's dreams - at his farm's ball-park - a place where people who had sacrificed parts of their lives for others would be given a second chance: "There's a place where things like that happen. And if you want to go, I can take you." Graham was reluctant to leave his "special place in all the world" in Chisholm, and felt that his destiny had already been fully realized: "Once a place touches you like this, the wind never blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child. I can't leave Chisholm...I was born here, I lived here. I'll die here, but no regrets....Son, if I'd only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes, now that would have been a tragedy." He affirmed that he had no regrets about choosing a very satisfying medical career rather than baseball, and declined Ray's invitation to fulfill his dream.

Later that night back in the motel, Ray recounted his experience with 'Doc' Graham to Terence Mann. As he had with Mann in Boston, Ray now felt misgivings about his journey there to take Graham to Iowa: "So now, I don't know why in the hell we were supposed to come here."

The Return Trip to Iowa - and a Younger Archie Graham:

Ray returned a phone call to Annie - she informed him about asking the bank to allow them to skip a few mortgage payments, but was told that "they had just sold the note on the farm to Mark and his partners....He says if we don't sell to them, they're gonna foreclose. Ray, we don't have the money." Mann had decided to travel to Iowa with Ray (Mann: "Hey, I can't quit now. I got to see this ballpark"), so they would be back home shortly. Shortly later, they picked up a teenaged hitchhiker with a duffelbag who - uncoincidentally - was enthusiastic about baseball:

I play baseball....I'm lookin' for a place to play. I heard that all through the Midwest, they have towns with teams. And in some places, well, they'll even find you a day job so you can play ball nights and weekends.

Mann and Ray shared a knowing but confused look when the boy introduced himself as Archie Graham (Frank Whaley). Ray noted that teams that would offer to find jobs for players only occurred in the 1920s, as Archie was asleep in the back seat.

Ray remembered the beginnings of his estrangement from his dad over the issue of baseball during his teen years - in part blamed on Terence's book, and then on a disagreement over the guilt or innocence of Shoeless Joe Jackson during the 'Black Sox Scandal' - and Ray's impulsive decision to not respect his father. The split between father and son was beautifully symbolized by Ray's statement: "I NEVER PLAYED CATCH WITH HIM AGAIN." Ultimately and regretfully, father and son were never reconciled, or able to play catch again, due to the father's death:

He never made it as a ball player, so he tried to get his son to make it for him. By the time I was ten, playing baseball got to be like eating vegetables or taking out the garbage. So when I was fourteen, I started to refuse. Can you believe that? American boy refusing to have a catch with his father?....That's when I read The Boat Rocker by Terence Mann...I never played catch with him again....Anyway, when I was seventeen, I packed my things, said something awful, and then left. After a while I wanted to come home, but I didn't know how. Made it back for the funeral, though....I said I could never respect a man whose hero was a criminal....Shoeless Joe Jackson....The son of a bitch [Ray's father] died before I could take it back, before I could tell him...He never met my wife. He never saw his granddaughter....I can't bring my father back.

Mann summarized: "Now I know what everybody's purpose here is - except mine."

As they neared the farmhouse, they were astonished by the illuminated and glowing baseball diamond in the midst of darkness. After pulling up to the farmhouse surrounded by a white picket-fence, Ray introduced his fellow travelers, Mann and Archie ("He's come to practice with the team"). Suddenly, the ball diamond was populated by many old-time ball players who were warming up for a game, and Mann was flabbergasted by the sight of Shoeless Joe, his teammates, and a second team - the New York Giants - who had been invited so that they could play a real game together. Archie recognized some of the players: "Hey, that's Smoky Joe Wood and Mel Ott and Gil Hodges."

[Note: Historically, there's a disconnect in the script. Gil Hodges' 18 year career in baseball (in 1943 and 1947-1963) was a few decades later than Shoeless Joe's 13 year career from 1908-1920. Jackson's career was prematurely ended due to his banishment from baseball in 1921. The other players were contemporaries: Smoky Joe Wood (from 1908-1920, 11 yrs), Mel Ott (from 1926-1947, 22 yrs), and Ty Cobb (from 1905-1928, 24 yrs).]

Joe noted: "Ty Cobb wanted to play. None of us could stand the son-of-a-bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it. Ha, ha, ha." And then Joe urged young rookie Archie to join them, warm up, and play on the Giants team. Mann was still aghast:

Mann: Unbelievable.
Ray: It's more than that. It's perfect.

When Archie came to bat, he winked at "Knuckles" the pitcher during his windup, and was retaliated against with two speed-balls aimed at his head. When Archie appealed to the plate umpire (Brian E. Frankish), he was warned: "Watch out you don't get killed." Shoeless gave Archie some tips on what to expect from the next pitch, and Archie hit a sacrifice RBI fly to the outfield that allowed the third base runner to safely score. Ray, his family and Terence cheered from the bleachers, bringing a wide grin to Archie's face. He had fulfilled his dream of batting against a major league pitcher. The scene dissolved to black.

Ray's Decision: Foreclosure or Keeping His 'Field of Dreams'?

The next morning, Mark pulled up in a Jeep into the farmhouse driveway, mindlessly stomped directly onto the field in the path of a pitched ball in the middle of a game, and confronted Ray and Annie who were spectators on the bleachers. Oblivious to the players on the field, he demanded that Ray immediately sell his farm, but was refused:

Ray, it's time to put away your little fantasies and come down to Earth....Ray, you have no money. You have no money. You have a stack of bills to choke a pig, and come fall, you got no crop to sell. But I do have a deal to offer you that's gonna allow you to stay on the land....You let us buy your house. We'll leave the house. You can live on it rent free as long as you want....Ray, do you realize how much this land is worth?...You gotta realize we can't keep a useless baseball diamond in the middle of rich farmland...Ray, you're bankrupt! I'm offering you a way to keep your home because I love my sister! Now, my partners Ray, they don't give a damn about you, and they're ready to foreclose right now!"

Karin sweetly insisted that she had a visionary solution - charge admission for tourists to watch the nostalgic ball games - and remember their childhood innocence:

Daddy, we don't have to sell the farm....People will come...from all over. They'll just decide to take a vacation, see? And they'll come to Iowa City. They'll think it's really boring. So they'll drive up and want to pay us. Like buying a ticket....To watch the games. It'll be just like when they were little kids a long time ago, and they'll watch the game and remember what it was like....People will come.

Ray was abruptly handed final papers by Mark to sign.

At this point, Mann (with a Baseball Encyclopedia in his hand) delivered a poignant "People will Come" speech - an elucidation about the purpose of the game of baseball in American history and how baseball once reflected the best about America, to help Ray seek out the meaning of the voices and the purpose of the ball field in the face of the farm's foreclosure:

Ray. People will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway, not even 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 like...Then they'll walk out to the bleachers and sit in their shirt sleeves 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'd 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's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come...

Although everyone was moved by Mann's words, Mark was still stressing that Ray should sign the mortgage papers, or face the loss of everything plus eviction: "You build a baseball field in the middle of nowhere, and you sit here and you stare at nothing." Karin stood up and argued back: "It's not nothing" - and in the scuffle, she lost her balance, was accidentally knocked off the bleachers to the ground, and stopped breathing. Ray watched as young Giants ballplayer Archie decided to sacrifice his youth as a ball player - he crossed the ball-field's foul line, and morphed into his older self Doc Graham (with his black overcoat and medical bag) to save Ray's daughter Karin, who was actually choking to death on a piece of hot dog.

Afterwards, Ray realized that Doc couldn't return to his youth and resume playing on the field: "Oh, my God -- you can't go back!" With no regrets, as he walked back onto the field to return home to Minnesota (via the cornfield), and as he passed by the other younger ballplayers who congratulated and commended him, he made a request: "Win one for me one day, will you, boys?" Before 'Doc' entered into the adjoining field to disappear, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson praised his ball-play: "Hey rookie! You were good!"

At the same time, Mark realized he could now see the players ("When did these ball players get here?") and had an instant change of heart: "Do not sell this farm, Ray! You gotta keep this farm." Shoeless Joe decided to "call it a day" as the players began to walk toward the outfield, but then turned and invited Mann to join them as he left. Ray was miffed ("Why him? I built this field! You wouldn't be here if it weren't for me...I want to know what's out there"), but was rebuked by Joe: ("But you're not invited!"). Ray insisted on knowing what reward he would receive for sacrificing so much for others: "What's in it for me?" - but was told to remain, since he had unfinished business to attend to: "I think you'd better stay here, Ray." Mann reiterated the reason why he had been chosen to meet Ray and come to the field:

I gave an interview...The one about Ebbets Field, the one that charged you up and sent you all the way to Boston to find me.... 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.'...You bet I'll write about it....That's what I do.

Mann turned and then, after pausing at the border-line of the adjoining corn field, disappeared.

Ray's Reconciliation with His Own Father:

Before Shoeless Joe also exited the diamond, he glanced toward an unidentified NY Giants uniformed catcher at home-plate, and reminded Ray - with a grin and a hint: "If you build it, he will come." The new apparition was Ray's estranged ghostly father John Kinsella, who was removing his catcher's mask and other gear. Ray didn't realize it quite yet, but he had fulfilled his father's dream of playing with the Sox.

Ray reacted with great surprise to this younger version of his father in his 20s:

Oh, my God...It's my father. 'Ease his pain.' (Annie: 'Go the distance')

In retrospect, all three of the strange and compelling 'Voices' that Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella had heard had already helped others:

(1) ("If you build it, he will come") - to summon the ghost of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, his fellow banned Chicago White Sox ballplayers, and other NY Giants team members (and other team players)
(2) ("Ease his pain") - to renew the spirit of disillusioned author Terence Mann
(3) ("Go the distance") - to travel to Minnesota and allow Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham a chance to play in the majors

But now the voices would help Ray personally.

The mystical sports film ended with the revelation that the voices were actually Ray's own internalized desire (Ray: "It was you." Shoeless Joe: "No, Ray. It was you.") to allow reconciliation with his father and to "ease his pain." Shoeless Joe disappeared into the cornfield, as the catcher slowly walked over to Ray, Annie, and Karin - Ray was overwhelmed:

My God. I-I only saw him years later when he was worn down by life. Look at him. He's got his whole life in front of him, and I'm not even a glint in his eye. What do I say to him?

Annie suggested that John first meet his granddaughter Karin. After brief introductions and a short discussion together, Annie and Karin eventually retreated to the porch swing - to assume the same position they were in at the film's beginning, also at dusk. He began to realize that even though he faced financial ruin, his Iowa farm life was a blessed, heavenly dream ("It's the place dreams come true").

Ray: You catch a good game.
John: Thank you. lt's so beautiful here. For me, well, for me, it's like a dream come true. Can I ask you something? Is, is this heaven?
Ray: It's Iowa.
John: Iowa?
Ray: Yeah.
John: I could have sworn it was heaven.
Ray: Is, is there a heaven?
John: Oh yeah. It's the place dreams come true.
Ray (pondering about his current situation): Maybe this is heaven.
John: Well, good night, Ray.
Ray: Good night, John. (They shook hands and parted) (choked up) Hey, Dad? You wanna have a catch?
John: I'd like that.

Father and son had a final exchange alone in the twilight, but it wasn't until the second-to-last line of film dialogue that Ray finally called John his 'Dad'. They enjoyed a game of catch on the ball diamond as the golden sun set - during the moment at dusk known as the "magical hour." Annie turned on the lights to illuminate them. During a few long shots circling around the field, the two were truly reconciled. The film ended with a stream of cars (and headlights) approaching the ballfield in the middle of the Iowa cornfield, signaling that Ray wasn't going to lose his farm after all.

Almost unnoticed, after the scrolling end credits, the film concluded with a dedication: "...For Our Parents."

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