“You’re killing me Smalls!”
The timeless phrase bemoaned by Hamilton, “The Great Hambino,” Porter. For anyone in their 20s and early 30s, it’s been entrenched into our lexicon, ever since The Sandlot was released in 1993.
The film follows Scott Smalls, who moves to California from Kansas with his mom and stepdad in 1962. Naturally awkward, Smalls prepared for a summer playing with his toys and gadgets rather than hanging out with friends. His mother was worried. Boys were supposed to get in trouble and get dirty.
Unbeknownst to his mother, Smalls wanted to join a group of friends. The Sandlot Kids were a group of eight neighborhood boys who met every day on an old baseball field. The game was life, and they refined their skills with daily practice. For anyone who knows baseball, however, a team needs nine to be complete.
Smalls wanted to be that ninth guy, but the crew couldn’t get past the fact that he has no idea of how to throw, catch, or hit. The group’s smallest member Yeah Yeah summed it up.
“He’s an L-7, weeeeennniieeeeeee!”
Their leader Benny Rodriguez, however, believed in Smalls. With a little help, Smalls caught on to the game, and became part of the group. But he still didn’t know the game, or its history, nearly well enough. So when the team needed a ball, he swiped one from his step-father, signed by a “girl” named Baby Ruth.
That ball of course ends up over the fence, and falls into the clutches of an infamous junkyard dog. The gang puts their heads together to explore every gizmo, gadget and contraption they can think of to steal the ball away from “Hercules,” but it all fails. Benny ultimately needs to tame the power of some fresh PF Flyers, and go face to face with the dog. He succeeds, and even befriends Hercules by the end.
Hercules became the team’s mascot. Smalls recovered his stepfather’s ball and avoided a lifetime grounding, while the gang finished the best summer of their lives. It was never quite replicated after people moved away.
The film’s appeal stretches far beyond a love of when baseball was still America’s Pastime. It’s about kids finding themselves, getting in trouble, and working together to get out of it. It’s about daring to live the dream of kissing the hot lifeguard. It’s about showing that money isn’t necessary to have a good time. It’s about that bad time everyone made the same stupid mistake and paid the same price. The Sandlot is about making the most of your childhood, so that you might have memories that will live on.
Everything about The Sandlot breathes the ideals of nostalgia, both for childhood and the innocent naivety of the early 60s. The world was mostly limited to the town you lived in, forcing you to create your own fun. Consequently, childhood antics spread through the town’s conscience. Do something big enough and it became legendary. While it may not have been noticed at the time of the movie’s release, the costume designers and music director hit a home run (appropriate, yes?) in recreating the look and sound of the epoch. Songs like “Wipeout” and “Tequila” enhanced the fun, bouncy energy of the film, while colorful horizontal striped shirts, vintage baseball apparel and selvedge jeans effectively transported the audience back in time.
In the beginning of the movie, our protagonist Smalls (played by Tom Guiry) is in every which way a geek. He’s not athletic, studies too hard, and looks the part. His mom decked him out in baggy khakis, a short sleeved button down, hair with a geeky side part and pomade, and a fishing cap with a bill twice the length of a standard hat. After finally proving himself to the guys, he still looked like a geek, but acted less like the part.
After that fateful summer, Smalls would continue his love of baseball into a burgeoning career as a broadcaster.
John Lofgren Foggy Dyed Striped Pocket Tee – Navy
$128 at Self Edge
American Needle 1920 Cleveland Indians Home Hat
Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1962 551Z Jeans in Rigid
$260 at Unionmade
Converse Chuck Taylor Classic Hightop in Optical White
$55 at Converse
Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez
In his small, California neighborhood Benny (played by Mike Vitar) is the cool kid who everyone want to be and the best baseball player around. Chances are, if you had him on your team, you were probably going to win. But beyond his skill on the diamond, Rodriguez sees the best in people and their potential for what might come. Because of this, Scott Smalls is able to prove himself to the Sandlot gang. And when the shit started to hit the fan, it was Rodriguez who came to the rescue.
After he earned his nickname, “The Jet,” by escaping the clutches of Hercules, it followed him all the way to the Major Leagues, where him and Smalls continued their friendship.
Left Field NYC Cone Mills Greaser Jean
$180 at Left Field
Todd Snyder Champion 3 Quarter Sleeve Shirt in Black and White
$70 at Unionmade
American Needle 500 Series 1958 LA Dodgers Hat
$30 at American Needle
PF Flyers Sandlot Edition
$55 at PF Flyers