U.S. skip John Shuster’s ‘Field of Dreams’ connection
Nestled into the northern reaches of Minnesota’s Iron Range, Chisholm, Minnesota – population 5,000 – is rarely mentioned in front of a national audience.
In fact, it would probably be a pretty safe bet to say that most Americans have never even heard of Chisholm, which is the hometown of U.S. men’s curling skip John Shuster.
Except if someone is a movie buff.
Besides being Shuster’s hometown, Chisholm, Minnesota is also the setting of portions of the movie “Field of Dreams”, where Ray (Kevin Costner) and Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones) go in search of a dead, former baseball player named Archibald “Moonlight” Graham.
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“Moonlight” Graham (played by Burt Lancaster) was the umbrella-wielding old man in an overcoat who once upon a time, had played half an inning of one Major League Baseball game during which he hadn’t batted before quitting baseball.
Graham’s place in “Field of Dreams” is that in the movie, he supposedly returned home to Chisholm after his one Major League Baseball game and lived the rest of his life happily as the town doctor – but was still empty inside, due to having come so close to realizing his baseball dreams that remained unfulfilled.
Of course, in the movie, Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones pick up a hitchhiker on their return trip to Iowa, who – this is fiction, obviously – ended up being a young “Moonlight” Graham, who would get his one Major League at-bat on the Field of Dreams – all before using his doctor skills to perform first aid on Kevin Costner’s choking daughter, turning back into an old man and disappearing out into an Iowa cornfield.
Make-believe Hollywood, right?
Well, the disappearing into cornfields part and instantly morphing between teenager and senior citizen is complete, outrageous fiction...or, so we think.
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But, as 2014 U.S. men’s curler John Shuster can explain, his hometown’s presence and the subject of a baseball player named “Moonlight” Graham was not completely made up.
NBCOlympics.com: So, your hometown, Chisholm, was the setting of parts of “Field of Dreams”. You know anything about that?
Shuster: Yup, “Moonlight" Graham. That was a real guy – “Doc” Graham is what he was in our town. After he played his little bit in Major League Baseball – half of an inning, where he never got to bat – he was a real doctor in our town until he died.
NBCOlympics.com: How about the movie’s depiction of Chisholm as a town? Was that accurate? Did they even film the movie in Chisholm?
Shuster: They did not film the movie in the town.
But, they did use a lot of references. They did come in and talked to the editor of the local paper. So, the lady they had in the movie that they (Kevin Costner/Ray and James Earl Jones/Terrence Man) talked to in the movie was based on the real lady. So, that was kind of factually based.
Editor’s Note: The portions of “Field of Dreams” that took place in Chisholm were actually filmed in Galena, Illinois.
NBCOlympics.com: That stinks that they didn’t actually film the movie in your town. Did the town they used at least look like Chisholm?
Shuster: Kind of.
Our town, literally, has a four-block long Main Street that looks like how you’d expect a small town to look in the movies.
NBCOlympics.com: So, you’ve been an Olympian on multiple occasions, while the real “Moonlight” Graham only played half an inning of one Major League Game – you seem to have accomplished more as a curler than he did as a baseball player. Are there any other athletes from Chisholm who have accomplished as much in their sports as you have as a curler?
Shuster: I’m actually the second Olympian from the town.
We had a swimmer, a gal who went for swimming in the early 1920s, I think.
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Editor’s Note: Chisholm native Ann Govednik was a U.S. swimmer in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and in the 1936 Berlin Olympics
But, if you go into the town and look at the signs, a lot of the stuff is heavily around basketball, because our basketball team, I think, has like four state championships.
NBCOlympics.com: So, Chisholm is more of a basketball town than anything else? How did you become a curler instead of a basketball player?
Shuster: I had played basketball from the time I was in Kindergarten, through eighth grade.
Then one day, there was this flier at school that said to come out and try curling. This was probably in sixth grade.
I figured I’d go out and try it, because I thought that basketball was probably not going to work out for me.
I went and tried to curl…and I liked it.
Since I saw that flier, I have kind of been hooked ever since.
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