A perennial Father’s Day favorite — a valentine to familial love, the power of dreams and baseball — Field of Dreams opened in theaters 25 years ago this month, going on to gross $65 million and earn three Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Playing the ghost of baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson was new kid on the block RAY LIOTTA, hired by writer/director Phil Alden Robinson for his “sense of danger and ambiguity.” It’s a breathtaking performance, and one that the Emmy-winning actor remembers fondly.
“The real Shoeless Joe batted left-handed and threw right. I throw left and bat right. The movie’s baseball coaches said they had ways they could train me to do it like Joe, so we worked on my throwing and my batting, and I was getting to a pretty decent place. I worked hard. … So the producers and the director came down to USC [the University of Southern California], where I was training every day, and they decided it wasn’t convincing enough, and they came up with the idea where they’d just flip the film, like they did with Gary Cooper in The Pride of the Yankees, and then it’d look like I was batting left and throwing right like Joe. So I didn’t worry about it anymore. I just played ball my way. But then they never flipped the film. I’ll never forget, [former MLB All-Star and World Series champion] Tim McCarver, when the movie came out, said he loved the movie, but Ray Liotta throwing and batting the opposite way of Shoeless Joe kind of ruined it for him. I thought, ‘Oh, my God!’ So I started rationalizing it in my head: This guy I’m playing, he’s dead. And he’s coming out of a magical cornfield. The whole thing’s built on a fantastic premise. Maybe Joe changed after he died. Maybe he learned some new tricks in heaven.”