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Ghost Players

Field of Dreams

June 2010

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Winning film brings Field of Dreams to life

To paraphrase the oft-quoted line from the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams,” if you film it, they will come.

Joe Scherrman figured someday he’d find a use for the abundance of video he compiled from 18 years of performances and appearances by his Ghost Players, a group of volunteer ballplayers who brought the magic of the movie to life on the famous field near Dyersville, Iowa, and around the world. Now he has his outlet.

Scherrman turned more than 660 hours of film into a 43-minute documentary, “Ghost Player: Relive the Magic.” The film is garnering numerous awards, including first prize at the film festival associated with last week’s Sport and Society conference.

“The Ghost Players took on a life of its own,” Scherrman says of the group often referred to as the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball. “I’ve got almost 20 years of film of these characters traveling all over the world.”

Decked out in their vintage 1919 uniforms, members of the Ghost Players were on hand with Scherrman at the Lambeau Field Atrium for the presentation of the award. Two of the players actually served as extras in the original movie starring Kevin Costner.

A Mirror of Our Culture: Sport and Society in America,” an academic conference, was co-sponsored by the college and the Green Bay Packers.

Kevin Quinn (Economics), conference director and one of the category judges, explains: “The theme of the conference was about sport and society, and this film hit right at where those topics intersect.

“Here’s a bunch of friends in a small town doing something they love, and they made a lot of other people’s lives better. The film does a good job of evoking emotion. They just nailed it.”

The documentary tells the story of how this entertaining team and the game of baseball moved audiences around the world and forever changed the players’ lives. Footage from visits to military bases and hospitals, as well as performances on diamonds around the world, shows how America’s pastime combined with tomfoolery brought smiles to audiences and the players themselves.

Scherrman, who runs his family’s farm and household-equipment business in his spare time, credits the dedication of his players with making Ghost Players into the phenomenon it became. Players took paid and unpaid vacation from their real jobs to allow for travel, while local shows at the Field of Dreams drew large crowds every weekend.

“Obviously, this was a labor of love,” Quinn says. “The emotion in it is so genuine. The commonality that exists with baseball at the same time represents something uniquely American. When they went to the military bases, it was like bringing a slice of home. The film just hit on all cylinders.”

More winners
“Truth in 24,” a documentary that chronicles the Audi Sport racing teams as they attempted to win a record fifth consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans, took second place in the film contest.

Two Green Bay area-based photographers earned top honors in the sports photography contest. Mike Roemer, of Mike Roemer Photography, earned first prize for his shot of end-zone action at a Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns game. Green Bay Press-Gazette photographer Evan Siegle was runner-up with his photo of former Packer running back and coach Harry Sydney in his current role as coach of a high school team.

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