There’s something about warm summer nights that always makes me want to watch “The Sandlot.”
This has been the case for more than a decade. I’m not sure of the exact recipe, but some combination of a sunlit evening, the weight of humidity in the air and a sense of time slowing down brings the film to mind. Until a few weeks ago, though, I hadn’t actually seen it since I was 11.
I suppose it seems strange that I’d think of the movie at all. To borrow a phrase from the film’s narrator, Scotty Smalls, I am “a grown-up girl.” The least likely of any human to care about baseball.
And in my case there’s truth to the stereotype. I’m not particularly interested in the game.
Still, I was about the same age as the Sandlot boys when the movie came out in 1993 and for whatever reason their coming-of-age tale has stuck with me as a favorite through the decades. The storyline, of course, reaches far beyond the game itself to burgeoning friendships, rites of passage and epic adventures just beyond the backyard. All the makings of a classic.
I’d mentioned to Matthew that it would be fun to watch the movie if we could find a copy. He did, and within a few hours of bringing it home, he, Strummer and I had posted up in the living room.
As we were watching it, I realized that I’m now the age of Scotty’s mom. And I couldn’t help but think more like a mother as I watched it this time. I’d forgotten that the boys swear from time to time. (True to life, I’m sure, but I probably would’ve waited a little longer to show it to Strummer if I’d remembered.) The movie is also a little campier than I’d recalled, in a way I’m sure the filmmakers intended but went over my head as an 11 year old.
Overall, I was pleased with its staying power. It remains a funny, lighthearted and touching story. And judging by the continuing popularity of the phrase, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!” I never should’ve had a doubt.
Strummer loved it. As soon as the credits started to roll, he asked to watch it again. We didn’t, but the next day he and Matthew went “grocery shopping” and returned with a baseball cap he has barely taken off since. He even tries to wear it to bed.
We’ve been playing catch and practicing batting a little. When he steps up to the imaginary plate, Strummer hits the bat on the ground a few times, probably something he picked up from the movie. I toss the ball. He hits about one in four. And when he misses he tells me I have to keep my eye on the ball. Ha. It’s fun.
Now and again I hear people wonder about the future of baseball. Is it still relevant?
It’s too slow, some say. People don’t have the attention span anymore.
I’m sure there is merit to these arguments. But as the mother of baseball’s newest devotee, I’d put my money on timeless draw of a bat, a ball and a ragtag gang of friends.
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