I was working on my favorite assignment of the year, telling the stories of the Musial Award winners for the St. Louis Sports Commission, when I was reminded of my husband’s favorite movie, Field of Dreams. There’s this scene in which Shoeless Joe Jackson returns from the dead and looks with awe at a baseball diamond that has been carved out of what should be a corn field. The transformation was completed at the behest of a little voice inside the farmer’s head.
“Is this heaven?” Shoeless Joe asks.
“It’s Iowa,” erstwhile farmer Ray Kinsella answers.
The scene is repeated near the end of the movie, only this time, Ray’s long-departed father asks the question. Ray answers again, “It’s Iowa,” but after a long look at the dad he hasn’t seen for decades, adds, “Maybe this is heaven.”
The folks of that great state have created another magical field. From Iowa Hawkeye fans have sprouted the tradition of turning and waving to the kids in the hospital that overlooks Kinnick Stadium between the first and second quarters of home games. Fans beyond the state border have shed a tear or two when watching the video of the entire stadium, spontaneously and organically taking time out to wave, and of the kids waving back.
The wave has inspired national stories of the kids, their struggles, their resilience and their hope. The Musials instead chose to focus on the two people, strangers at the time, who pushed the idea of the wave on social media. One, Levi Thompson, runs a fan website. The other, Krista Young, is just a fan.
Their story is a testament to the little voice inside each of us, urging us to perform a small act of kindness. I was honored to speak with them and share their story with you. As I was for the other nine honorees.
Come to think of it, Ray’s words apply to the sum of the Musial Awards, a night to honor the best of humanity in sports. When you look around the Peabody Opera House, you see the honorees and their acts of grace, class, dignity, sportsmanship. You see how their actions lift a crowd out its seats and move it to cheers and tears.
Is this heaven?
No, it’s the Musials…
… Maybe it is heaven.