Scotty has the summer of his young life learning to play baseball in The Sandlot.
The Sandlot reminds you of a cross between Field of Dreams and The Wonder Years, a nostalgic look at adolescent males growing up in a small town in the early 1960’s and the importance of baseball in their lives. The story is about a boy named Scotty (Tom Guiry) who has just moved to a new town at the start of summer with his mom (Karen Allen) and new step father (Denis Leary). Desperate to fit in and make new friends, he sees that a group of eight local kids play baseball at a nearby sandlot. Unfortunately Scotty has no idea how to play the game; he has never even played catch with his dad. He is so naive about baseball, he doesn’t even know who Babe Ruth is. When he gets a chance to play, he is embarrassed because he has no idea how to catch or throw a ball, and the other kids snicker and make fun of him. Luckily, the best player on the team, and its leader, Ben Rodriguez (Mike Vitar) takes pity on Scotty and helps him learn to play the game because he wants to have a ninth player on the team. The instruction works, and the next time he plays, he is credible catching and throwing the ball. The other boys on the team then begin to accept Scotty as one of them, and soon Scott is having the best summer of his life. Although Scotty is now one of the guys, he still has a lot to learn about the game and about life.
Ben, Brandon, Ham, Tommy, and Timmy were all part of the sandlot team.
In the heat of the summer, the boys play baseball in their sandlot every day. Occasionally they play another team, but mostly the game is amongst themselves. Sometimes they go to the town swimming pool where one of the team members, Michael “Squints” Palleorous (Chauncey Leopardi) has a crush on the beautiful teenaged life guard. They look forward to the fourth of July, the one evening that they can play night ball in the sandlot because of the light provided by the fireworks. The boys also face adversity in the form of a large dog who lurks just behind the back fence of the sandlot. The dog is so large and ferocious that the boys are afraid to enter the yard to recover any lost balls that go over the fence. The rumor spread around town is that this dog actually killed and ate a boy who tried to retrieve something from the dog’s yard. One day the boys’ last ball is hit over the fence. This is a real problem for them because new baseballs cost nearly a dollar, and the boys never have much money. The boys are frustrated until Scotty remembers a baseball that his stepfather keeps in his study. He runs home and grabs the ball, which he plans to return long before his stepfather will be returning home after a business trip. Unknown to Scott, the ball was autographed by Babe Ruth, and so is very valuable as a collectors item. When this ball also goes over the fence, Scotty fears the horrible retribution that he will face from his stepfather, especially when the other boys explain how valuable that ball is. Much of the remainder of the film is spent showing all of the plans and “Rube Goldberg”-like machines the boys devise to try and recover the precious baseball. Even the Great Bambino himself (Art le Fleur) appears in a dream to help Ben figure out a plan.
Bertram slides into first base wearing his lucky All Star T-shirt.
The Sandlot is different from most other kids sports movies because it’s not ultimately about winning the “big game”. Baseball is presented here as a way of life for young kids, a pathway for them to follow as they emulate the great heros of the game. Instead of seeing the kids influenced by pushy adults, encouraging them to win at all costs, the story focuses on the personal growth of the kids, and how they use teamwork to try and solve their problems. As the plot progresses, the scenes become more and more exaggerated, as the kids try plan after plan to retrieve the valuable baseball. Writer/director David Mickey Evans gives us some great summertime entertainment that emphasizes the legendary nature of the sport and uses it as a metaphor for the coming of age themes common to all young people. This film reminds you about what it was like when kids led a simpler life. All you needed to have a good time was a baseball glove and ball to throw, a pair of chucks to run around in, some friends to hang out with, and a sandlot to play ball in. Kids didn’t need constant media images to give them ideas; they used their imaginations. They didn’t need a lot of money to spend; if everyone worked together they could cash in pop bottles and come up with the 98 cents needed to buy a baseball. Adversity in life was worrying about your parents grounding you for misbehavior, and rivalries were settled with words or a ball game instead of a submachine gun. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this film, for its humor, its reminder that baseball should be played for the game, not personal gain, and for its reflection of what is truly important when you are twelve years old.
Kenny winds up on the sandlot pitcher’s mound.
Bertram guards second base.
Anthony Richmond, Director of Photography provides you with great chucks shots throughout The Sandlot. Most of the kids on the team wear high top chucks, and you even see some genuine PF Flyers worn by Ben and Alan “Yeah, Yeah” MacClennan (Marty York). Pitcher Kenny DeNunez (Brandon Adams) and second baseman Bertram Weeks (Grant Gelt) sport black high tops, while catcher Ham Porter (Patrick Renna) and the brothers Tommy (Shane Obedzinski) and Timmy Timmons (Victor DiMattia) wear white chuck high tops. Later on in the film we see Scotty wearing white chuck high tops, after he has becomes “cool”, and one of the guys. While it is hard to pick out any one special scene because so many have chucks in them, some of the best visuals are when we see Bertram slide into first base, Kenny winding up and pitching the ball, the rival baseball team riding up to challenge Ben and his teammates to a game, and camera closeups of different team members wearing white or black chucks.
Ham and several other team members wore white high top chucks.
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