Diffenderfers

Warwick Township father Josh Diffenderfer, left, and son Joe attended Thursday's Field of Dreams game in Iowa. In this photo, they are standing on the field where the 1989 movie was filmed.

Josh Diffenderfer only played baseball in his youth, from fourth grade through eighth grade. But the experience over those five seasons began a love for the sport that has since blossomed in fatherhood.

A 1998 Warwick High School graduate and Warwick Township resident, Diffenderfer is now the dad to three children. The youngest is Joe, who will turn 11 in September. Since Joe began playing tee ball, his dad has been his coach.

Naturally, there have been countless viewings of Field of Dreams, the 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner in which the main character builds a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield.

Thirty-two years after that movie debuted, the first Major League Baseball game was played in Iowa on Thursday night, on a newly-constructed diamond adjacent to that in Field of Dreams.

Though, Diffenderfer only learned last weekend that the game would be happening. By midnight Saturday he had trouble falling asleep and hopped online to look for tickets to what was dubbed the “Field of Dreams” game.

“What do you think about this?” Diffenderfer asked his wife.

“Just do it,” she replied.

The Diffenderfers watched the movie again Tuesday night. Josh and Joey made the 15-hour drive from Lancaster to Dyersville, Iowa, on Wednesday, staying in a Wisconsin hotel due to a lack of available rooms closer to Iowa venue.

Father and son arrived to the Iowa venue around 2 p.m. Thursday, playing catch on the same baseball diamond in Field of Dreams.

“I was rolling some ground balls to Joe at short stop,” Diffenderfer said. “We got to walk into the corn.”

The Diffenderfers were among a crowd of about 8,000. An irrigation system was installed to keep the corn in good shape -- between 10 and 12 feet high. Similar to the movie, players walked through those corn stalks in the outfield as Costner stood on the field watching them enter. The White Sox topped the Yankees in a back-and-forth contest won on a walkoff home run.

“It’s going to take me a couple days to process things,” Diffenderfer said. “It was so overwhelming.”

In the movie, Costner initially sets out to build the field to resurrect the career of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who would have been a shoe-in Hall of Famer but was instead barred from baseball after being tied to the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.

However, the film ends after Costner meets the ghost of his father. The two have a catch on the field.

“I got my love of sports from my dad,” Diffenderfer said. “Joe was two when my dad died. I never got to have that sort of experience of grandfather to father to son kind of dynamic.”

Diffenderfer took his dad’s glove with him to the game.

“I wanted to bring that glove to have that experience and that moment to reflect as far as what fatherhood means in relation to baseball,” Diffenderfer said. “This whole trip. ...baseball is just the connective tissue. ...I’m fortunate we were able to do this.”

What to Read Next