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Morning Briefing: Who was the voice in ‘Field of Dreams’?

Field of Dreams
In “Field of Dreams,” Ray Liotta played Shoeless Joe Jackson in Kevin Costner’s cornfield.
(Universal Pictures)

“Field of Dreams” was voted the greatest sports movie of all time in a recent survey of Times readers. It was released 30 years ago, and director Phil Alden Robinson talked to Yahoo this month about some secrets you may not know about the film.

For one, who was the voice — the person who spoke the lines “If you build it, he will come,” “Ease his pain” and “Go the distance”? Some people think it’s Ed Harris; some think it’s the star of the movie, Kevin Costner; and some think it is another of the movie’s stars, Ray Liotta. Robinson says he has yet to hear the right name guessed.

“I did record the voice as a scratch track,” Robinson says. “When you go into the editing room, you have to have something to cut to, so I recorded the voice as well as Kevin’s opening narration. When the picture was locked, we re-recorded all of that voiceover with people who could really do it. What’s funny is that a few people who thought they knew have revealed it and gotten it wrong. I’ll read people saying, ‘Well I happen to know that it’s so-and-so,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh no, it’s not!’ We’ll let that remain a secret. It’s a great mystery, and I like that.”

And how about that scene at the end, the one that shows the headlights of hundreds of cars headed to the baseball field. CGI? Some other sort of Hollywood trickery? No, they used actual cars.

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“We had a production assistant drive that route from the [nearby] town of Dyersville to the field, measure it and then divide it by the average length of a car with a little space in between. He came back with 2,500, so we said to the Dubuque [Iowa] county Chamber of Commerce, ‘You’ve got to give us 2,500 cars and drivers.’ ”

So, 2,500 cars and their drivers lined the road while Robinson and J. David Jones, who did aerial photography for films such as “Apocalypse Now,” “Speed” and “Twister,” flew in a helicopter to shoot the scene.

“On the first take, the cars had gotten a little tight together,” Robinson said. “So we did a second take where the light was beautiful, but we realized the cars didn’t look like cars anymore; we got to an altitude where it just looked like we had strung lights on the highway.”

Finally, Robinson asked the car drivers to alternate their low-and-high beams, which helped simulate motion on camera.

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They’re fine

Not everyone thinks minor league baseball players should be paid more.

Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton told the Washington City Paper that he thinks underpaid minor leaguers are part of what makes baseball great and that if conditions were made better, “complacency” could set in.

“I think it’s difficult, yes, and it’s easy for me to say that because of where I am, but I wouldn’t be where I am without that. … If I financially am supported down there and financially can make a living and not have to get to the big leagues, I think I’m a little more comfortable. I think that I might not work as hard because I know I’m getting a decent paycheck every two weeks, and may not push myself nearly as hard.

“I don’t disagree with [the notion] that they’re being exploited, but I think it’s for the betterment of everybody. I know it sounds crazy. … I think there’s a middle ground. … There’s ground to be made up, but I think it still should be rough.”

According to the Associated Press, minor-league players on average make, per month, $1,100 at rookie ball and Class A teams, $1,500 at Double-A teams, and $2,150 at Triple-A teams.

But wouldn’t the same apply to the majors? Is Eaton complacent because he is getting paid $8.4 million this season? Would he play better if he were getting paid $2,500 a week? Sounds like he should step up and volunteer to make the major league minimum ($555,000) so he can reach his potential.


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