Cruise, however, could not be lured to returned to Bayonne, despite his reportedly being just across the harbor in Brooklyn, where Spielberg is apparently setting up operations for a new film based on the 1972 attack on Israeli athletes at the Olympics.
DreamWorks said Spielberg will begin filming in Brooklyn in June.
City Law Director Jay Coffey said negotiations had gone on with Paramount for the appearance as late as two days prior to the May 21 unveiling of the field. Coffey - who was on vacation in Washington D.C. at the time - and Little League officials were in contact with Paramount via email, but did not know whether or not Cruise would make appearance even as late as the ceremony.
Photographer Richard McCormack speculated that Paramount may have nixed the appearance because of an airplane crash on Coney Island beach about the same time as the event. Cruise routinely travels by helicopter and did so during his shoots last November in Bayonne.
Henry Sanchez, whose home less than a block away, was used as center stage for some of the film shoot, serving as the home for the character Cruise played.
"I wanted to come down here and meet him since I only saw him in passing when he was at my house," Sanchez said.
A piece of history
Klumpp Field - which was once known at Bridge Field (with a new sign near the press box to indicate the historic name) had fallen into disrepair over the last few years, and though local Little League officials sought to repair, an offer to use the site by Spielberg and Paramount movie studios, came with the provision that the field would be restored. Freeholder Barry Dugan, who served as Public Works director at the time, said the city had last restored the field in 1998.
"We tore this field apart and laid sod. We thought we had a first class facility back then," he said. "But this is a 1,000 percent better. Klumpp Stadium will go down in history."
Paramount ripped up part of the field to construct a gas station that bore the name of Harrington's, an automotive repair shop a few blocks away on Kennedy Boulevard. Paramount paid almost $120,000 to cover the cost of new sod, bleachers, upgraded press box, new fencing and drainage and an addition $23,000 to provide new fill soil for under the sod.
The restoration of the film was delayed by bad weather for several weeks, causing some of the games normally played on this field to be played on the league's other fields nearby. About 200 players use Klumpp Field - which is located under the shadow of the Bayonne Bridge at First Street and Kennedy Boulevard. This includes minor league Little League baseball, girl's softball and the instructional league play.
In a ceremony that saw several hundred people - some of whom maintained hopes to the last minute that Cruise would help celebrate the moment - Father Miller opened with a prayer thanking God for the glorious day and the kids.
"We thank God because He gave us all of this," he said. "We ask God to bless us and the whole league, make sure all the games are good and played with sportsmanship, safety and fun."
Father Miller also expressed gratitude to the city, parents and little league. But he also cautioned the kids.
"You have to know one thing, for every team that wins, there is a team that loses," he said.
Thanking Spielberg and Cruise for helping out
In thanking Spielberg and Cruise for shooting the film there, said Little League President Glenn Regan a lot of hard work by a lot of people went into making the new field a reality this including representatives from the Port Authority, the City of Bayonne, and the Little League.
"I want to commend all of the officers of the Bayonne Little League for their continued commitment to the children of Bayonne and all the volunteers who donate time to make sure it is successful," said Mayor Joseph Doria. "This is part of the education process. You learn how to win. You learn how to lose. You learn how to achieve to your highest ability. And the boys and girls who play here will learn that."
Regan, however, noted the additional gifts that came as result of the use of the film for the movie. While Paramount installed new fencing, new turf and restoration, Cruise and Spielberg paid for the new scoreboard. In addition, Cruise also paid for the construction of two new dugouts, replacing the muddy open to the air dug outs kids used at the field before.
First Ward Councilman Theodore Connelly recalled the shooting
"It seems only like yesterday that we were standing down here watching the people running through the streets and seeing the all the movie cameras," he said. "They had torn this up and put the resemblance of Harrington's gas station here. We all wondered after that if we would ever get the field back. This is a wonderful day. It took patience. It took leadership. It took cooperation by a number of agencies from their Little League managers to the city administration."