As children, many of us aspired to be professional athletes. Back in the days before Xbox and PlayStation and EA Sports, the days when Video Pong was cutting edge, we spent our summer on the ball field from mid morning to sundown.
The fields were simple. Bases were made of castaway clothing or boxes — perhaps even a crushed soda can or milk carton. The fields were safe. Parents didn’t seem to mind that you hopped on your bike and took off, not to be seen again until dusk.
The fields inspired. They were hallowed grounds where children competed and honed their skills, surely to carve a path to the future, to the big leagues, to fulfilled dreams.
The movie Field of Dreams makes its way to my DVD player from time to time. And each time, I seem to pick up on something that somehow escaped me in the previous viewing.
During my most recent sit down with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones, I was tuned in – no make that locked in on some of the dialogue.
During the film’s final moments, Ray Kinsella played by Costner is reunited with his deceased dad, John Kinsella.
John: Is this heaven?
Ray: It’s Iowa.
John: I could have sworn this was heaven.
Ray: Is there a heaven?
John: Oh yeah, it’s the place dreams come true.
Ray: (looking around at his field, his farm, his home and his family) Maybe this is heaven.
The messages, lessons and imagery of this movie will capture your mind and envelope it in a blanket of hope.
Hope is what will drive the athletes who take their field of dreams at the Under Armour Performance Center on July 25.
All of them were the best of the lot back on those fields as youngsters. They went on to high school to be the best amongst their classmates and that resulted in college scholarships. In college they refined their craft and while they remained the best among peers, the gap narrowed.
This summer undrafted free agents like will test their skills against the world’s best to see if they have what it takes – to see if they can realize a dream.
“They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children longing for the past.”
These athletes will compete for limited spots on a roster that looks very deep and talented. They will attempt to gain the advantage they once enjoyed in days gone by. Yet the struggle is more intense and the threat of failure for the first time in their lives will be very real. It will stare them in the face and they will fight with every fiber of their being to listen to the whispers heard by Ray Kansella in that Iowa cornfield.
“Go the distance!”
Fans will soon turn their attention towards Ravens Summer Camp and when you do keep in mind that these players we often criticize are the best in the world at what they do. Even those who don’t quite make the cut aren’t that far behind. The years of practice, the hours in the weight room, the gallons of sweat all lead them to Owings Mills, Maryland – the threshold to their dreams.
Some will make it. Some will not. Some will be redirected to the practice squad and get a second chance at fulfilling a dream. Jameel McClain did it. Dannell Ellerbe did it and so did Kelly Gregg.
They persevered driven by a dream.
They went the distance.
Article originally posted in 2010