Locals recruited for "Field of Dreams security team

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Collin Arndt was awarded Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge's first home run ball while working security during the "Field of Dreams" MLB game. The Major League Baseball game was the first ever to be played in Iowa. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker 

On Aug. 12, a baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees marked the first-ever Major League Baseball (MLB) game played in Iowa. The historical event was held at the famous "Field of Dreams" where the motion picture of the same name was filmed on the outskirts of Dyersville in 1989. A group of local men, who were hired as part of a security team, were fortunate enough to be part of the iconic event. Here are their stories.

Andy Reimer

Andy Reimer, Financial Advisor, was 14-years-old when the movie was released. He does not recall exactly when he first saw it, but does remember that it was a very big deal and saw a lot of shirts, bumper stickers, and other Field of Dreams memorabilia quoting, "Is this Heaven?" 

Reimer shared his perspective. "Baseball is a generational sport that everyone is connected to," he said. "Being a lifetime baseball fan and growing up on a farm I think I was able to understand the movie from multiple angles. I have been a Yankees fan since the early 90's. Don Mattingly was one of my favorite players!" 

He was invited to participate in the security team by Austin Coon. "Of course I said, 'Are you serious?'" he questioned. "It was an honor. Not only were we representing Major League Baseball but we were also representing the state of Iowa. I have a new respect for all of the details that go into these events, the security and ushers that work these events, the vendors. It was really awesome to see a few hundred Iowans come together and help pull this off." 

From noon until approximately 5:30 p.m. Reimer was stationed at the front gate allowing access to the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox team members, the film's star Kevin Costner, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and many others, giving him a surreal feeling. 

He was later relocated about 75-feet from the left field foul pole. "My job was to watch the gate for the beer vendors from Chicago (that was a unique experience also)," he noted. "When the festivities started I could hear the music playing in the background, but couldn't see anything.  It was very quiet. Later on when I watched it I could see that this was when Kevin Costner and the players were coming out on the field. As I was standing there a guy walked by and said, 'I'm crying. Are you crying?' I pulled down my sunglasses and he said 'You're crying too!' I couldn't see what was going on but I could feel it."

Reimer held his position. "I was standing along the left field fence from the top of the seventh inning on. I wasn't moving unless the owner of the security company asked me to, and after the game I stood near third base for around an hour." 

The excitement of the day took its toll. "I was drained," he commented. "It was hot all day and we stood for about 12 hours straight. When I woke up I told my wife, Mindy, that if I didn't have the hat and shirt I wouldn't have believed that I was there and that it was a just a dream." 

Collin Arndt

Collin Arndt, Clayton Ridge High School Athletic Director and physical education teacher, shared his story. 

"My Dad has always been a baseball fan and introduced me to the sport and all the movies that came with it including Major League, Bull Durham and For the Love of the Game. Field of Dreams was another one we watched back in the day," he remembered. "The movie showed me to not give up on something you want and feel strongly about." 

Arndt, who is a baseball fan, but not of either team that played, described the experience. He said, "It was awesome! As Kevin Costner would say, 'It was perfect.'"

Arndt found out about the opportunity through fellow teacher Kyle Sperfslage. "Kyle called me during the week of the game and asked if I would be interested in working security because he knew a guy who was involved," he explained. "Working behind the scenes was an incredible experience. Being on the field for batting practice and interacting with players on the New York Yankees team was an experience of a lifetime. I actually got Aaron Judge’s first home run ball, so that was surreal as well."

The game ended and the evening came to a close but the stories lingered. "Once the night was over, it was definitely hard to not talk about it for hours and hours," he said. "We got the opportunity to go back to Andy Reimer’s place and relive the day for a little bit before calling it a night!" 

Kyle Sperfslage

Kyle Sperfslage, Clayton Ridge High School social studies and physical education teacher, never watched the movie. "To be honest, I never saw the movie until three days after the game!" he exclaimed. "It was a good movie, but not impactful on my life. I am a Cubs Fan, so I didn't care who won. The experience didn't totally sink in until the following day when I was reading about the game and talking to others. People who weren't even baseball fans were telling me that they were glued to the T.V. made me realize just how significant of an event this was. I think it makes us realize how lucky we are to live in small town Iowa, and some of the things that we take for granted." 

Ryan Lucas, a Clayton Ridge graduate, connected Sperfslage with the person in charge of the security company. "Working behind the scenes showed me just how many people are involved in putting an event on and the work and logistics that it takes to make every thing work,” he commented. “Things were a little unorganized at times as they were still looking for workers almost up until the event, but in the end it all worked out. I feel that next year would be smoother since the company has already done it, that is if it is the same company in charge.”

Austin Coon

Austin Coon, Market President for Fidelity Bank & Trust, remembered watching “Field of Dreams” as a child and always loved the movie. “As a Yankees fan the experience was surreal! Just an absolutely amazing experience!” said Coon. 

Coon was grateful for the opportunity. “I was lucky! I got a call from my brother-in-law, Tadd Schutte, who got a call from Kyle Spersflage, who got the contact information from Ryan Lucas,” he explained. “It was a very cool experience. I got to watch and see how amazed the players were at the venue and event.  That really set the stage as to how special of an experience this was. Not just for us as fans but for the players and teams.”

Coon’s excitement continued after the game. “I didn’t sleep much the night before the game and then my wife went into labor early the following morning! I went without sleep for the better part of 30 hours,” he shared. 

Dan Pierce

Dan Pierce, Water Superintendent for the City of Guttenberg and Clayton Ridge soccer head coach and girl’s basketball assistant coach, was a junior high student when he first saw the movie shortly after it was released. “I like movies that inspire, and it is one of those that you can watch over and over again,” he shared. “The fact it was filmed so close to home makes it that much more special.”

The Cubs fan, who grew up watching the Chicago team with his grandma, was not a fan of either team. “That evening will never be duplicated and the experiences will be told over and over,” he commented. “It was also special to share the same experiences with my brother T.J., and many other friends who also worked the event. I was fortunate enough to get very close to some big name individuals throughout the evening, so that was a highlight for me!”

At first Pierce declined the invitation. “My brother T.J. signed up early on to do security and asked if I was interested,” he commented. “I didn’t really know what my work schedule would be, so I declined. A couple days before the event there were still some openings and he asked me again. My wife Jody told me I should go, it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I managed to get the day off of work to make it happen.”

Pierce described his unique opportunity. “Behind the scenes was a crazy experience! There were so many things going on to make the event happen,” he said.  “It was unique to have access to the places the public is not allowed to see. I had the job of security at the front gate where the public entered the venue before they passed through the metal detectors. I inspected a lot of bags! I confronted a man and his son about the contents of their bag, to later find out it was the owner of the Chicago Cubs! It was extremely fast-paced and stressful for the few hours just prior to the game.”

Pierce had no trouble settling down that evening. “Being on my feet all day, with many hours in one spot at a time, my body was sore and tired so I had no problem getting to sleep that night!” he concluded. “I have enjoyed sharing my stories with family and friends and I feel very fortunate to have been able to be a part of such an event!”

Tadd Schutte

Tadd Schutte, Clayton Ridge Elementary physical education teacher, remembered watching the movie at age ten. He recalled thinking how cool it was that a movie was filmed in Iowa. “As an all-around sports fan it is a tie between Field of Dreams and Hoosiers as the best sports movies,” he commented. “I am a Cubs fan, but the experience trumped no matter what teams were playing. It was one of the most unreal experiences of my life.  Thinking of the reality of how big of a national and even global event it was and I was privileged to be a part of it.”

Schutte was contacted at the last minute. “I received a call from Kyle Sperfslage on Tuesday that they were in need of extra security for the game, went to the site to get fingerprinted on Wednesday and at the game on Thursday,” he explained. “It all came up so quickly that it was an exciting feeling all three days.”

He shared his behind-the-scene experience. “I think it was an entirely different perspective as opposed to the fans coming to watch the game,” he said. “I worked a security gate from noon to five, and watched adults come though the gate – only seeing the ‘Field of Dreams’ house, barn and field – they were acting like kids going to Disneyland for the first time.  I heard comments like ‘We made it’ – ‘We are actually here’ – I can’t believe we are here,  and ‘Is this real?’”

He was later relocated. “I was moved up to the stadium about half hour before the game started and was able to view the entire pre-game and game from the upper concourse behind home plate,” said Schutte. “It was an unbelievable feeling during pre-game when Kevin Costner walked on the field for over two minutes and the stadium of 8,000 went completely silent before the players emerged from the corn.  From the time Costner walked out and after he concluded his pre-game speech was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever been a part of.  I will be sharing my experience with everyone for a long time.  Hopefully we get a call to return next year!

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