New Thing: Watch ‘The Sandlot’


Each year I make a list of new things I want to try; it’s part of how I live my life on purpose. Some of these new things are exciting, many are terribly mundane.

Apparently, I spent most of my childhood living under a rock.

It was a PBS, “go-play-outside”- shaped rock, but a rock nonetheless.

This means that when you try to talk to me about mid-90s Nickelodeon programming, I’ll just stare into the middle distance. The Simpsons? I wasn’t allowed to watch it because Bart was “a smart aleck.” I saw The Goonies for the first time at age 22 and – let me tell you – that skeleton piano does not play well to English majors who take themselves very seriously.

All this is to say: I was not expecting much from The Sandlot.

If it was anything like my viewing of The Goonies, I anticipated rolling my eyes a lot, cringing at racist jokes, and annoying my fellow viewers by pointing out holes in the plot.

Instead, I was charmed and endeared and found myself getting a teeny, tiny bit misty-eyed.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Sandlot, the plot is super simple and a straight forward. A sweet, nerdy boy named Scotty Smalls moves to a new neighborhood with his mom and newly minted step-dad. Stepdad promises to teach boy to catch but is usually too busy. Boy discovers group of neighborhood kids who play baseball every day in a nearby sandlot. Bonding and coming of age ensue, as well as hijinks involving lost baseballs, a terrifying dog, and an assumed-to-be-mean-and-creepy neighbor.

Of course, our young hero makes friends and becomes slightly less nerdy. Our scrappy sandlot team beats the snotty, established baseball team who wear uniforms. The terrifying dog is just a St. Bernard who likes to stockpile the balls that come over the fence and the Boo Radley-ish neighbor is none other than James Earl Jones! And he was a famous baseball player before he went blind! And he just wants to be buddies and talk about baseball and give our heroes a priceless baseball signed by “Murderers’ Row,” several of the best Yankee hitters in the late 1920s!

Here’s the thing about watching a decently-made kids movie as an adult:
the things you’d fail to notice as a child get you in The Feels this time around.

When Smalls awkwardly asked his stepdad (a young Dennis Leery?!!) to play catch? OH LITTLE BUDDY YOU’RE GETTING ME IN MY STEPMOM HEART.

When he made his list of “Things I need to learn about baseball? I FEEL YOU FELLOW SCHOOL NERD AND LIST MAKER.

And the bit at the end? Where the narrator updated us on the adult lives of each character? And Benny and Smalls are still friends? Well, as someone who’s known her best friend since fifth grade, I get it Smalls. I get it.

So if you haven’t seen The Sandlot yet, go watch it.

Even if you didn’t spend your childhood living under a PBS-shaped rock.

What are childhood movies do you love? Which ones do you think can stand up to an adult viewing?

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  1. Julie

    Yes, the Sandlot! I, like you, grew up under a PBS-shaped rock, but we did have a few videos in the house (thanks grandparents!). They were Annie, Aladdin and the Sandlot. Thus, I’ve seen it around a million times. I thought Benny was so adorable when I was the same age. Love it.

    • Sarah Von Bargen


  2. lindsay

    in a high school sociology class, my teacher told the class to come to a consensus on the best movie ever made, and we eventually decided on the sandlot, mostly because nobody didn’t like it. (and i supposed we learned about consensus-building in the process, so good job, high school sociology teacher!)

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I love that! What a great teaching model!

  3. Sarah M

    The Sandlot was one of my all-time favs as a kid (and I agree, better than The Goonies anyday), but it did give me a premature vomit phobia that unfortunately I still have to this day…
    Sarah M

  4. Rachael H.

    I am SO RELIEVED that you liked this! I love this movie and can’t wait until my daughters are old enough to enjoy it – with some good-natured discussion of the “you play ball like a girl” bullshit. They’ll finally understand why my husband and I often tell them “you’re killin’ me, Smalls.”

  5. Caitlin

    My husband and I dressed up as Squints and Wendy for Halloween! Love that movie!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Cuuuute! Did people know who you were?

  6. Erin Etheridge

    So happy you liked the movie! I’m standing by E.T. as a childhood fave that is still So. Good.

  7. Kate

    I’m so so glad you liked the movie! I adore this movie! And obviously have a lot of feelings about it, as just reading this made me tear up. I’m a children’s librarian and I have pushed this movie into the hands of nearly every family in my community. (I also use the phrase “You’re killing me Smalls” to my after school teens who won’t stop shrieking and running :D) I also love the friendship between Benny and Smalls. I saw this movie in the theaters as a kid, and I remember feeling so relieved that they were still friends (and that I could still be friends with my childhood BFF.)

  8. Elise

    The Sandlot is definitely one of my top 3! I had the hugest crush on Ya-Ya as a kid! I actually just lent it to a friend last weekend because she has never seen it either 🙂

    Highly recommend checking out Hey Arnold (Nickelodeon 90s cartoon that’s way better for grownups than kids) if you’re interested at all!

  9. Lizzie

    Aw, I miss The Sandlot…time for a long-awaited rewatch. I’ve found anything with the Muppets is even better as an adult; there’s a surprising amount of well-timed, delicious sarcasm and snark. On the other hand, one movie that doesn’t age well is Hocus Pocus. I rewatched it for Halloween and it just fell flat. When I was a kid all the jokes about “a VIRGIN lit the candle!” scandalized me, but now they’re just gratuitous.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      The Muppets are soooo good! I haven’t re-watched Hocus Pocus in ages but I have fond memories of it. Sad to hear it doesn’t hold up!

  10. Kelsi

    Love The Sandlot! So glad you had a chance to see it! The phrase “For-EVVVV-ver, For-EVVVV-ver” has been in my vocabulary for, well, about as long. =)

    This film was also my first experience with Booker T and the MGs’ “Green Onions.” Timeless!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yesssss! I loved that For-EVVVV-ver bit!

  11. Allison

    I first saw The Sandlot when I was probably 11 or 12 and it is still one of my favorite movies to this day — not just a nostalgic favorite from childhood, but still an actual, legit favorite. So happy you liked it!

  12. Helene

    I’m so glad you finally watched this! Although I wasn’t allowed to watch much other than PBS, this was one of the first film I saw in the cinema. I’ve always loved it. I’m sure my dad said those exact words about The Simpsons too!

  13. Paula

    I loved the Sandlot! My sister and I had such a crush on Benny! Great movie. 🙂

  14. Katie

    I have seen The Goonies as both a kid and adult (and still love it, despite all its flaws) but I have not seen The Sandlot in YEARS. yeah yeah yeah. But it played a pretty big part in my hormone growth (that Benny, man). I think it’s time I give it an adult view.

  15. Erika

    Good to know I’m not the only one who was living under that rock! I just saw The Goonies a few years ago and have yet to see the Sandlot. Just last week, my coworkers were mocking me for having never seen “Saved By the Bell.” I lived under that rock for a long time.

  16. Joshua Larson

    Just walked out of Cub to a father stating “your killing me Smalls” to his son.

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