You might already be familiar with the story of Shoeless Joe, as the book by W. P. Kinsella inspired the movie Field of Dreams. In the book, Ray Kinsella gets three messages from legendary baseball players, and by carrying out what he interprets to be the instructions in the messages, Ray goes on a journey of self-discovery.
The first message Ray receives is “If you build it, they will come." Ray believes this is an instruction from baseball great Shoeless Joe, one that is telling him to build a baseball field in his cornfield in Iowa. After he does, Ray allows the baseball players of the past to relive their experiences out on the field.
The second message Ray hears is “ease his pain.” He believes this means that he is to find the reclusive author J.D. Salinger, who is most famous for Catcher in the Rye. Ray finds Salinger, and he takes him to a baseball game in Boston’s Fenway Park.
At this point, Ray and Salinger begin to hear voices together. While at the baseball game at Fenway Park, they hear the third message from the past, this one telling them to “go the distance.” Ray believes that this message is from baseball legend Archie “Moonlight” Graham, and he and Salinger “go the distance” to discover the meaning of the message—they travel to Minnesota to find out what they can about the player and his life and dreams.
W.P. Kinsella uses baseball as a metaphor for life. By following the messages, Ray allows imagination into his real life. He gives life to the baseball players, as they give life to his dreams.