DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) — Ron DeSantis gripped a baseball, looked at his 5-year-old son, Mason, and lobbed him pitch after pitch. He grinned at Mason’s hits and rolled his eyes when his own pitches came in too low or too high.
“Bad pitch, buddy,” the Florida governor said after one errant throw. “That one was my fault.”
It was as far away as one could get from the drama dominating the world of politics. As former President Donald Trump was having his mug shot taken inside an Atlanta jail, DeSantis and his family went on a pilgrimage Thursday to the “Field of Dreams” movie set.
The scene, with golden-tasseled rows of corn surrounding the field and its recognizable white farm house on the nearby hill, seemed an alternate reality from the proceedings involving Trump, who is far and away the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner.
Asked by reporters what he thought of the simultaneous moments, DeSantis quipped, “Well, I’m glad I’m at the ‘Field of Dreams.’”
DeSantis played in the Little League World Series before starting in the outfield at Yale University. He took swings of his own and sent some line drives into the outfield.
DeSantis’ wife, Casey, also spent some time at the plate, as did 6-year-old daughter Madison. The youngest of the children, 3-year-old Mamie, scampered around the baseball diamond, more interested in tossing infield dirt than batting.
DeSantis, who battles a reputation for being stiff and unfriendly, approached the field wearing a fleece campaign vest and long-sleeved shirt with his sleeves rolled up. The heat was starting to ease with sunset.
He clearly felt comfortable with a bat in his hands, weighing and gripping the selection of Louisville Slugger bats awaiting him at the backstop. And as he readied his son to bat, he turned to his left and casually spit in the dirt, as baseball players often do.
Despite the enduring popularity of the venue, inspired by the 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner, it is not known for producing presidents.
During the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucus campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders played softball at the field. During the 2016 Republican campaign, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz visited, like former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum did during the 2012 GOP campaign. Four years earlier, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson paid homage to the monument to rural life and America’s pastime.
The closest any visitor has come to the White House: Democrat John Kerry, donning a Boston Red Sox cap, celebrated July 4th weekend with a visit in 2004 en route to the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Of this year’s Republican contenders, only North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has also made the out-of-the-way stop here.