'Field of Dreams' made into reality in Freeport, Illinois

Thursday, October 13, 2016
Wrigley replica built in Freeport, Illinois
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Two-and-a-half hours northwest of Chicago, a dream took root in the town of Freeport, Illinois.

FREEPORT, Ill. -- These days, it seems everyone is a Cubs fan. But a decade ago, when the Cubs finished the season at the bottom of their division, that definitely wasn't the case.

But that is when a man from northwest Illinois had a pie-in-the-sky baseball fantasy. Two-and-a-half hours northwest of Chicago, a dream took root in the town of Freeport, Illinois.

"I had a lot people say, 'hey, that's a great idea!' But then I'd walk away and they'd go 'he's crazy!'" said Denny Garkey, the founder of Little Cubs Field.

Crazy, maybe... But also committed.

"He said, 'you know, I have this brilliant idea: What if we build a replica of Wrigley Field in Freeport?' And I looked at him and said 'Denny, aren't you drinking awfully early for a Sunday morning!'" Mark Winter said.

"Not many people - or our director - was an advocate of it, but I knew Denny. He's an idea man, but he's also a doer," said Ken Collin, Freeport Park District Commissioner.

Nearly a decade ago, Little Cubs Field was born. A Little League diamond for the littlest of baseball players- and their parents, grandparents, and anyone else who wants to run the bases in a ball field about one-third of the size of Wrigley Field.

"If you build it, they will come, and they have come from at least 40 countries and every state in the union," Garkey said.

There are authentic elements of the real Wrigley here: A few bricks, some worn seats and the iconic ivy.

"The Cubs were nice enough to give us some of the cuts from their ivy in 2007 and we incorporated it in the field," Garkey said.

All of this built by volunteers. The land came from the park district. The 18,500 bricks were donated, designed and installed by the local bricklayers union. It definitely has that "Field of Dreams" feel to it; but be careful who you say that to.

"Field of Dreams is nothing but an empty field for cripes sake! And they're still getting people out there. This has physicality!" Freeport Park District Commissioner Ken Collin said.

After all this, you might be thinking that Denny must be the biggest Cubs fan in the world. He admits, he's not. His love is for baseball, and he thinks no place brings it alive quite like Wrigley.

"That connection between families and generations, that's what we were going for, that's what we want," Garkey said.

And that's what they achieved in a field in Freeport, Illinois.