The early 90’s were a time when nearly everything aimed at kids was “X-Treme!”; a minimum of two tones of neon was practically a requirement on any garment. There’s not much that could be plucked from the era and labeled “timeless”, but one of my favorite movies, first released in April of 1993 has withstood that test of time. “The Sandlot”, a tale of baseball obsessed friends on a mission to get back a Babe Ruth signed ball has never been as popular as it is these 25 years later.
No sport encourages passing it’s traditions down to the next generation quite so much as baseball, and The Sandlot has become part of that tradition. Despite being set in 1962, it’s themes resonated in ’93 just as they do today, with elements like treehouses, sleepovers, first crushes (Wendy Peffercorn!), using curse words when grown-ups aren’t around, a smidge of gross-out humor, and just generally doing stuff your parents would never allow, it proves that many of the ingredients for childhood fun will never change.
In fact it was the Sandlot that made me consider the fact that my parents probably used to be kids once too. Maybe by watching it I was even getting a peek into what summer days were like for my Pop, who would’ve been just a couple years older than the Sandlot gang. In one way or another, The Sandlot has a way of making you feel wistful for a place in time that predates your own birth by 20-some years.
The movie stands out within the sports movie genre and even in the baseball movie subset simply because it’s climax is not merely “The Big Game” and it’s antagonist is not the standard jerky rival team. No, the dragon that guards the treasure they seek is a giant dog, whose giant-ness varies greatly based on whether that specific scene is happening ‘in real life’ or in the imagination of the kids, (paying off in a sight gag that is as funny on the 10th viewing as it was on the first).
Though Baseball may be the story’s vehicle, under the red-stitched cowhide, The Sandlot’s “friendship amongst a lovable gang of underdogs on an epic adventure” is what it’s really all about. The story plays out much more like “The Goonies” than “The Bad News Bears” giving it the wide appeal that makes it a favorite of baseball fans and novices, alike.
At it’s Silver Anniversary, The Sandlot has long outlived it’s 90’s born-on date. It’s impact is refreshed with every new baseball season; it can be found all over Pop Culture these days. From screenings and promo days at Big League Ballparks, 2 Direct to DVD sequels, castmember signing events, T-shirts and action figures, constant replays on MLB Network, acknowledgement from the game’s next generation of young stars, as well as perhaps, the greatest compliment any movie can paid, the occasional homemade Halloween costume sighting (like this “L-7 Weenie” dressed as Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez).
All of it just goes to show that over the last 25 years, The Sandlot has made a legacy as “The Great Bambino” of Baseball films.