Clay VS Classic: The Sandlot (30th Anniversary)

“You’re killing me Smalls” – Ham Porter

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

There’s something about movie’s that can capture the charm of baseball that the sport itself never has for me. Field of Dreams (1989), Moneyball (2011) and this little coming-of-age gem are all evidences of this. Maybe Americans can just translate this otherwise mundane sport into the medium of movies so well because it’s as if their careers would depend on it. The buzz for baseball is something that is lost on us from across the pond, but through this medium I’ve become aware of the cultural importance that a bat and ball sport can bring an entire nation.

Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) recalls his fifth-grade summer from 1962. A summer in which he relocates to a new neighbourhood, and is quickly taken under the wing of big time baseball fan Benny Rodriguez (Mike Vitar). Benny teaches Scotty all about baseball, from bases to the Babe (Babe Ruth that is, not women) and everything in between. The rest of the group at the local sandlot aren’t so keen on the clueless new kid on the block, but a summer of adventure will soon unite them.


This wasn’t one of those movies that was on rotation when I was younger, but it’s clear to see why it would be for many others. It has that joyous summer feeling, and coming-of-age tale that similarly made the likes of The Goonies (1985) and Stand By Me (1986) such household classics. The adventures these kids go on won’t be too dissimilar to those we had ourselves. Trips to the local pool, treehouse sleepovers, and a summer of sport with our friends. But its a story about a ball stealing dog that they nickname the Beast, that seems to hold the boy’s baseballs as ransom from the exaggerated and humorous story the kids had cooked up for many years.

The chemistry between the co-stars feels like director/writer and also narrator David Mickey Evans has really captured lightning in a bottle. The highlights being the cocky and chucklesome Hamilton ‘Ham’ Porter (Patrick Renna), whose screen presence is best rewarded by the script, and the mischievous Michael ‘Squints’ Palledorous (Chauncey Leopardi).


What I love most about The Sandlot is that it isn’t necessarily about anything. It’s a hangout movie, and one that does best to remind you of your younger days. The narrator talks of this summer and prepares us for a moment he describes as the biggest pickle he ever found himself in. Of course it’s nothing major, even humorously paying off as a “oh, that’s it?” kind of way, but as kids it would have been everything.

Having only viewed this for the first time some years back in my early 20’s, I don’t have that nostalgia narrative connected to it. We’re taken on this fun albeit simple adventure, but it’s this cast of enthusiastic kids that elevate it. With a script littered with great lines, and a feel-good frivolous feeling that keeps it light and easy to come back to, The Sandlot’s charm hasn’t wavered throughout the years.


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