Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is a farmer in Iowa. One day, he hears a voice that says, “If you build it, he will come.” Eventually, Ray takes this to mean that if he builds a baseball field in his cornfield, Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banned from baseball due to the infamous Black Sox scandal in 1919, will come back to play ball there. So Ray builds the field and many legendary ball players show up to play. Unfortunately, Ray destroys a large portion of his crop in the process and his family quickly falls into financial ruin. As Ray is arguing with his brother-in-law Mark (Timothy Busfield) who is demanding that he sells him the farm, Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) is quietly listening. Terence is an aging author and activist from the 60’s who is also a great baseball fan. Then he delivers his eloquent monologue.
“People will come”
Terence’s speech, which lasts over two minutes, is meant to convince Ray not to sell his farm. He basically uses two arguments. The initial part of his reasoning centers on the novelty of Ray’s field. Obviously, there is no other ballpark in the world where dead baseball players can be seen. So Terence explains to Ray that “people will come” to see the field. And Ray should be happy to let them come. “It’s only $20 per person.” Ray will be able to make far more on this “field of dreams” than he ever could on a cornfield.
“It will be as though they dipped themselves in magic waters”
From there, Terence uses stunning, visual language to emphasize that Ray’s park is just too special to be destroyed. Although baseball has probably been surpassed in popularity by football, baseball has a historical significance in America that is unmatched by any other sport. Terence references childhood, innocence, peace and memories. He says, “The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.” He also says that everything in America changes and progresses too quickly. But baseball is timeless. He finishes with, “It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”
Soon thereafter, Mark accidentally knocks Ray’s daughter off the bleachers. At this point, “Moonlight” Graham (Burt Lancaster) walks off the field, becomes “Doc” Graham and saves the girl’s life. Tragically, in saving her life, he loses his eternity as a ball player at the magical field. But having accomplished his dream of hitting against a big league pitcher, he is content to leave. Also, his walking off the field somehow enables Mark to see the players. He tells Ray, “Don’t sell this field!”
As an author, Terence Mann is given the role of expressing just how special baseball is to our national psyche. Most of us have vivid memories of playing catch with our fathers or going to a ball game in the summer. Many of us heard legendary, heroic tales of famous or local players from our grandfathers. Just thinking about the deep green grass of the ball park elicits the smell of peanuts and popcorn. As Terence Mann, James Earl Jones captures everything we hold dear about baseball and delivers the finest movie monologue in history.
To hear Terence Mann’s entire monologue, visit You Tube or click here.
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