May 21, 2014 —
If you remember “Field of Dreams,” the iconic 1989 baseball film, Archibald “Doc” Graham had a choice to make. “Doc” was also known as “Moonlight” Graham in his baseball years, and although he played two innings of professional ball with the New York Giants, he never got to bat. This was the premise of the offer that Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) makes to “Doc” Graham (Burt Lancaster)—to play in his “field” on his Iowa corn farm and get a chance to bat with some Hall of Famer’s, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (Ray Loitta). As the story goes, while watching an afternoon game in the field, Ray’s daughter, Karin, is munching on a hotdog and begins to choke when she falls from the bleachers. “Doc,” who is young again, enjoying his youth and finally getting to play ball, has a choice to make—whether to step off the field and save Karin, never to be able to return to the field again, or just stand by and watch. “Doc” made the right choice to save Karin telling Ray that medicine was his true calling. The players all shook his hand as he left the field for good.
Does life imitate art, or is it the other way around? On a recent trip to the city we made an unscheduled stop near Garfield, NJ. Eddy the conductor passed me saying we had a sick passenger, who turned out to be a few seats behind me. The man was feeling faint, and as they helped him to his feet, he passed out, luckily between the big double doors in the middle of the car where there was room around him. Eddy was quickly on the PA system and asked, “If there is a doctor or a first responder on board, can you please come to the third car?” Within seconds, they appeared in the car, coming from both ends of the train, off-duty cops with their shields out, a fireman, an EMT person, a couple of nurses and a doctor. Like the cavalry coming to the rescue, they quickly assessed that the man was diabetic and his blood sugar was low. Someone else passed up a container of orange juice, and before long the man was sitting up. Soon the ambulance came, and the man walked off the train with a little help. Yes, if you call them, they will come.
As quickly as these Good Samaritans came, they disappeared back to their seats, much like “Doc” Graham did in the corn field. To me it was very comforting and life affirming that these strangers would come at a moment’s notice to help a fellow passenger. It speaks volumes of the dedication to their calling to help others. Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham was not just a character in a movie. For 50 years, he served the people of Chisholm, MN as doctor for the Chisholm schools. Just as they said in the movie, medicine was his true calling, and when they called him, he came.
This coming Father’s Day weekend in Dyersville, IA, they will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the movie “Field of Dreams.” The celebration will be hosted by Matt Lauer and Bob Costas of NBC and includes performances by Kevin Costner and his band, Modern West, along with Joan Jett and the Blackhawks. If you can’t make it or catch it on TV, do what I will do, pull out your own DVD copy and sit back in your easy chair and watch a great movie about America’s favorite pastime.