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The Sandlot


The Sandlot is a 1993 film about young baseball players. The film was directed by David Evans and was released with the title The Sandlot Kids in Australia and the United Kingdom. The title was later changed to simply The Sandlot in all countries for a DVD release.

Plot summary

The film is told through the perspective of Scotty Smalls, who is reminiscing on his first summer in Los Angeles. In 1962, Smalls moves with his mother and stepfather to a new neighborhood, and struggles to make new friends. One afternoon, he decides to follow a group of neighborhood boys, and watches them play an improvised game of baseball at a small field, which they call the “sandlot.” Smalls is reluctant to join their game, as he fears he will be ridiculed on account of his inexperience. Nevertheless, he chooses to play with them, but fails to catch a simple fly ball and properly throw the ball back to his infielders. All the other players, except for Benny Rodriguez, begin to jeer Smalls for committing defensive miscues, prompting him to leave the sandlot in embarrassment. Benny, who is the best player in the neighborhood, shields Smalls from the insults of his peers, and invites him to rejoin their game. He proceeds to give Smalls advice and helps him earn the respect of the other players. In time, Smalls is accepted and becomes an integral part of the team.

As Smalls continues to play with the team, he begins to learn many of the customs of the sandlot, while experiences many misadventures with his new friends. He learns that players avoid hitting home runs over the sandlot’s fences, as the property is guarded by a ferocious dog, called “the beast.” One day, Benny hits a ball so hard, that he ruptures its leather, causing the balls entrails to come out. The group cannot afford to buy another baseball, and is forced to retire for the afternoon. However, Smalls runs to his father’s trophy room, and steals an autographed baseball, in hopes of preserving the game. The team is impressed with Smalls’ gesture, and allows him to have the first at bat with the ball. He proceeds to hit the ball out of the sandlot, but is shortly enveloped by fear once he realizes that he has lost his stepfather’s ball. The situation is further worsened when Smalls realizes that the ball was autographed by Babe Ruth, and is almost irreplaceable.

Smalls and his friends begin engineering elaborate plans to recover the ball from the beast. After five failed rescue attempts, Smalls prepares to accept his fate. Around the same time, Benny has an enlightening dream, where he is visited by Babe Ruth, who encourages him run into the sandlot, and use his speed to recover the ball and escape. Ruth leaves Benny with the words, “Heroes are remembered, but legends never die.” Benny rallies his friends the following morning at the sandlot, and prepares to recover Smalls’ baseball. Using his PF Flyers, he steals the ball from the Beast, and successfully manages to elude the dog as it chases him through town. At the end of the race, the Beast is injured after a fence collapses on it. Smalls feels responsible for the ordeal, and helps the Beast (whose real name is revealed to be “Hercules”) escape the rubble. Benny and Smalls then decide to tell the dog’s owner, Mr. Mertle (James Earl Jones), about the ordeal. They eventually learn that Mertle played with the 1927 New York Yankees, and was teammates with Babe Ruth. Mertle, whose career shortened after he was blinded by a stray pitch, agrees to give Smalls a ball signed by Murderers’ Row – several of the best Yankee hitters in the late 1920s. In exchange, the boys are to visit Mertle once a week to talk about baseball. Smalls proceeds to give his stepfather that ball that Mertle gave him.

While his stepfather is still mad at him, they eventually get over the issue. He then goes on to explain what became of all his friends, and the future careers they pursued. The film then jumps twenty years into the future, where Smalls is a radio commentator for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez is one of the team’s star players. While he is in the twilight of his career, Benny manages to steal home in the movie’s final comments, before flashing a thumbs-up to Smalls in the press box.

 

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