DYERSVILLE, Iowa — It was a team of dreams for Iowa's Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville.
The Team of Dreams Spectacular charity softball fundraiser on Saturday drew baseball greats such as Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Wade Boggs and Ozzie Smith — as well as amateurs who paid to field balls with their sports heroes.
The game was part of a casino festival and fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans make the transition into civilian life.
The event drew about 4,000 people to the field, featured in the 1989 movie in which an Iowa farmer builds a baseball field and the ghosts of players from the 1919 World Series return to play.
For the former pro players, gathering together was a chance to reminisce.
“It's just an enjoyable time spending with friends,” said Major League right fielder Jackson, dubbed “Mr. October” for his postseason clutch hitting for the Oakland A's and the New York Yankees. “It's great to see all the guys are doing well, and it's great to be spending time like this at this stage in life.”
For many of the amateurs, Saturday's game was a fantasy come true.
“It's just a childhood dream to play at the Field of Dreams with all these idols I grew up watching,” said Tom Rauen. Rauen got to play shortstop alongside Boggs, a third baseman who spent most of his career with the Boston Red Sox.
There were plenty of comedic moments that kept the crowd laughing.
Bench caught one inning while sitting in a plastic chair, and sang an impromptu duet with Randy Owen of the band Alabama. And former Major League player and manager Pete Rose sent one of baseball's greatest leadoff hitters and base runners, Rickey Henderson, to hit out of order multiple times after Henderson crushed a home run into the famed corn around the field.
Boggs, part owner of All-Star Ballpark Heaven, which will be a large baseball and softball complex at the movie site, said he plans to make the Team of Dreams game a regular event.
“We are on the verge of something momentous, and we want to make this a yearly thing,” Boggs said. “I'm going to keep asking my friends to come back with me.”
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