When I think of baseball movies, the first one that comes to mind is my all-time favorite, The Sandlot. There are some critics of the movie, but they need to lighten up and realize that not every baseball movie needs to be a historical docudrama about a Hall of Fame legend. In fact, The Sandlot is about a legend – a sandlot legend. For any kid who grew up playing pick-up baseball games whether on an actual sandlot or a real field, sandlot legends are just as memorable as Major Leaguers. They may not be enshrined anywhere with a bronze head piece, but their memories live on forever and stories get passed down from generation to generation.
The Sandlot revolves around a group of pre-teens who love to play baseball. They are off from school on summer vacation and spend practically every day on the diamond. Forgive me if I overuse quotes from the movie; I have seen it possibly a hundred times and could recite line after line. This group of ballplayers “welcomes” the new kid to town, Smalls. I use welcomes in quotations because he is highly frowned upon when he first arrives since he is not very good at playing baseball. He is actually a science nerd whose mother encourages him to get outside and make some friends.
Smalls is befriended by Benny, the team leader of the sandlot gang. He is by far the best player and winds up with the nickname of Benny “The Jet”. To keep the synopsis as short as possible, Smalls uses his stepdad’s baseball, autographed by Babe Ruth, to play a game in the sandlot when the guys run out of baseballs. After he tells his new friends about the ball, they make it their mission to retrieve the ball and get it back before his old man gets back in town from a business trip. This is easier said than done since “The Beast” is on the other side of the fence waiting to eat them!
There are so many moments in this movie that you will find yourself quoting the lines afterwards and being able to relate to. Although kids nowadays don’t really act like they do in this movie, it will be a good flashback for older people who actually played outside during the summer without parental supervision and were allowed to get dirty. The kids all have unique characteristics and personalities that you will relate to friends that you had as a kid or that you have now. There are very few scenes that do not contribute to the overall flow of the movie and storyline, and it is all tied together by the love of baseball.
The Sandlot stands through time
All of the kids from the movie have since grown up, and there are a few videos on YouTube of them making appearances at ballparks to talk about the movie, as this year was the 20th anniversary of the release of The Sandlot. Squints might be the funniest because he was still wearing the same style glasses as an adult which he wore as a child in the movie.
One word of advice if you do decide to watch The Sandlot – do not watch The Sandlot 2 or The Sandlot 3! They are awful sequels and have no relation to the original movie. They were both straight to DVD films that are awful and pretty much ruin the original. There are some cameos by the original characters in the last film, but it is not worth watching even to see the original cast grown up and returning to their original stomping grounds. Watch the first one and leave it at that.
A classic scene from the movie involves the sandlot kids getting into an argument with the preppy local baseball team who comes to challenge them to a game. Ham gets into an insult battle with the preppy leader, and gives him the ultimate insult for baseball players: “You play ball like a girl!” Girls may take offense, but there is a reason why softball was invented. Boys are meant to play baseball.
This movie is not as highly regarded by movie buffs and movie critics since it is more of a kids’ movie, but it is still a great baseball film. There is a scene in which Benny has a dream where Babe Ruth comes out of his closet to give him advice on retrieving the baseball. At the end, the Babe asks Benny if he can have a Hank Aaron baseball card in Benny’s room which is quite comical. This was when Aaron was the home run king before Barry Bonds stole the record. Another scene depicts the kids mocking Smalls for not knowing who Ruth is, and they proceed to list off all the nicknames Babe Ruth had – The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, and The Great Bambino.
The Sandlot is a fun-filled baseball classic. You will definitely fall in love with Wendy Peffercorn. You will want to build a robot machine out of metal with a science kit. You will want a pair of PF Flyers, and you will want to go play baseball in an actual sandlot. You might or might not want to try chaw before getting on a fast ride at a carnival. You will want an autographed baseball by Baby Ruth (this should be something every baseball fan wants regardless of seeing the movie). There are so many great moments in the movie that will make you want to be a child in the summer of 1962. Find an old baseball jersey and cap, get some popcorn, and enjoy a movie that deserves a spot on your DVD rack.