There is a lot that goes into a movie becoming a classic. Perhaps the cinematography is second to none, perhaps the acting is once in a lifetime or perhaps everyone just falls in love with the film and it remains a movie viewing staple through all generations.
For the 1993 coming-of-age baseball film, “The Sandlot,” the last of those above reasons applies here.
I’m not sure just what it is about baseball-themed films that have really just gotten into my head these past years of my life. Perhaps it is the nostalgia and grandeur tied to the history of the sport, the connotation of it being “America’s favorite pastime,” or perhaps it’s the larger-than-life characters that rose to fame and folklore through it, such as the Great Bambino, Babe Ruth.
Regardless of the reason, baseball films have seemingly always been able to capture a nuanced nostalgia and have looked into the sport and characters that inhabit it. From “Field of Dreams,” to “The Sandlot,” there is a love and devotion to baseball that boarders on a spiritual level and it is truly a beautiful thing to see and feel.
Ironically, I don’t even like baseball. In fact, I find it to be among my least favorite sports to watch.
However, films such as “The Sandlot” do not show dry moments from the diamond. Instead, “The Sandlot” and other baseball films like it capture the love that goes into the game.
Arguably the best part of “The Sandlot” is how it puts you into the same mindset as these kids on their makeshift neighborhood baseball diamond. You feel their eagerness to play the game, with their aspirations not exceeding momentary goals like “boy I would love to hit a homerun.”
It’s this living in the moment aspect of baseball that is so beautiful and resonates to its fans, as well as non-sports people’s enjoying of baseball themed films.
That is what separates baseball films from other sports movies, the poetry and longhand styles of telling the story in a slow-paced and caring way.
Couple that with the characters in “The Sandlot” who all exhibit a characteristic of some kid we knew or were ourselves in childhood and its appeal and longevity in pop culture becomes quickly apparent.
“The Sandlot” doesn’t attempt to show a massive conflict resolution of the new kid in town getting bullied and then proving his worth through sports like other films based in athletics often do.
In fact, the protagonist Smalls is absolutely piss poor and if anything provides the kids at the sandlot more reason to ridicule him. He even mistakenly calls Babe Ruth “the Great Bambi,” instead of his actual nickname of “the Great Bambino.” The place in which this film separates from the aforementioned plot archetype is in the boys acceptance of Smalls as just another kid. Not as a weak athlete, but as one of them. A baseball player.
This unification of kids from around the neighborhood of all races and backgrounds lends to “The Sandlot” being a classic film. Every character has differences but none of them are made into focal points or topics of conversations.
Instead, from start to finish all that’s ever shown and depicted is boys enjoying the game of baseball and living for their afternoons and evenings with their friends at the ballpark or other misadventures kids naturally find themselves in.
All in all, “The Sandlot” may not be the best representation of the dynamic nature of the sport of baseball, but it certainly is the sport’s best ally in showing what drew us as a country to the sport in the first place.
Grant Mitchell is a junior majoring in public relations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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