Movies We Love: The Sandlot Featuring Art LaFleur & More
25 years after its release we celebrate the classic movie “The Sandlot”.
In the San Fernando Valley during the summer of 1962, Scotty Smalls is the new boy in the neighborhood, seeking desperately to fit in. He would be welcomed on the local sandlot baseball team that practices every day, which only has eight players. Smalls, however, cannot play baseball; on his first visit to the sandlot he finds himself in the outfield with a fly ball descending toward him which bounces off his glove, causing the other boys, except Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez, the team’s leader, to burst out laughing. Smalls, humiliated, leaves the baseball field.
Smalls asks his stepfather to teach him to play, and while his stepdad agrees, Scott cannot successfully catch or throw the ball. Benny soon teaches him what he needs to know, and with Benny’s support, he gets a place on the team.
Meanwhile, behind a wall at the end of the sandlot is a backyard inhabited by “the Beast”, an English Mastiff so large and savage that it has become a neighborhood legend. One day, the boys’ last ball lands in the Beast’s backyard. Smalls attempts to retrieve it, but the others, knowing about the Beast, stop him. That evening, they tell him all about the Beast, and that his owner, Mr. Mertle, got him when he was just a puppy when thieves were plaguing his junkyard, Mertle’s Acres. After a couple of weeks, the puppy became the Beast; he grew enormous and aggressive, killing and devouring the thieves, bones and all. Eventually, Squints’ grandfather, who was the police chief at the time, had Mr. Mertle chain up the Beast in the backyard and keep him under his house forever. Smalls also learns that many baseballs end up in the backyard, and then they just disappear.
The next day, at a local swimming pool, Squints pretends to drown so that he can kiss the lifeguard, Wendy Peffercorn, whom he has a crush on. She does not take too kindly to it, and they are banned from the pool. Nonetheless, she realizes that Squints has feelings for her.
One day, Benny busts the guts out of their baseball and Smalls borrows his stepfather’s ball. After that ball also ends up with the Beast, Smalls discovers the ball was special; it was signed by Babe Ruth. Smalls’ stepfather has gone to Chicago for a week-long business trip, putting Smalls and the others on a race against time to recover the ball before he returns. They make many attempts to retrieve the ball, but the Beast thwarts each attempt. One night, Benny has a dream in which Babe Ruth gives him advice, and Benny explains to him about the Beast, saying that he ate one kid who hopped the fence and went into Mr. Mertle’s backyard.
The next day, Benny puts on PF Flyers, shoes “guaranteed” to make a kid run faster and jump higher, and goes into Mr. Mertle’s backyard, despite protests from his team. Benny retrieves the ball, but the Beast breaks his chain and escapes, chasing Benny through the streets, a theater, a picnic, the local swimming pool and eventually back to the sandlot. Mr. Mertle’s fence falls on top of the Beast, but Smalls and Benny manage to get the fence off him; he shows the kids that he has been keeping all the baseballs they hit into the backyard in a small hole. Smalls and Benny then meet Mr. Mertle, who reveals that the Beast’s real name is Hercules, an English Mastiff, and that he knew Babe Ruth, because he was also a baseball player who went blind after getting hit by a baseball. Mr. Mertle trades the destroyed Babe Ruth-autographed baseball for a baseball signed by all of the 1927 New York Yankees, which Smalls gives to his stepfather as a gift to make up for the other ball.
The sandlot boys enjoy the rest of the summer and the next few years, with the Beast as their mascot. Over the next three decades, the boys grow up and go into different careers. Benny and Smalls remain close; Benny becomes a famous MLB player, while Smalls becomes a sportscaster.
Check out the trailer and look for The Sandlot on Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and others.