Iowa Man Gets Probation For 'Field Of Dreams' Site Vandalism

Austin Pape pleaded guilty in September to felony criminal mischief after prosecutors dropped a charge of reckless driving.

By Gina Tron

If you destroy it, they will come. "They" being the police, that is.

A man accused of driving onto and damaging the eastern Iowa baseball field made famous by the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams" will now be serving two to five years of probation.

Austin Pape, 21, of Dyersville, did $5,000 worth of damage to the iconic field, KCRG in Cedar Rapids reports.

He damaged the field’s sprinkler system and left behind deep gashes in the field, according to WQAD8 in Moline, Illinois.

Investigators say Pape not only acknowledged driving onto the field Jan. 22, but that he admitted to making a bad decision.

The field sits just outside Dyersville, 140 miles northeast of Des Moines. Thousands of people visit the property every year, running around the bases and walking to the surrounding cornfields.

Pape pleaded guilty in September to felony criminal mischief after prosecutors dropped a charge of reckless driving. Originally he could have faced up to five years in jail.

Field of Dreams Chief Preservationist Denise Stillman expressed that they didn’t want Pape's life ruined because the damage he caused to the field, according to KCRG. She has since passed away.

Pape’s attorney, Todd Klapatauskus, stated in court that his client has already dealt with punishment for his crime, namely public shaming, according to KCRG.

Pape was also granted a deferred judgment at his sentencing Monday in Dubuque. A deferred judgment allows Pape's conviction to be removed from court records if he fulfills his probation terms. He also has to pay a $750 fine.

The 1989 film “Field of Dreams” focuses on an Iowa farmer who hears a voice whispering, "If you build it, he will come.” He then plows his cornfield in order to transform it into a baseball field, in an effort to establish a less painful relationship with his father.

The Associated Press has contributed to this report.

[Photo Credit: Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office]

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