30 Trivia Tidbits About ‘The Sandlot’ on Its 30th Anniversary
A nostalgic look back at the wonders of childhood, including baseball, random acts of dog, vomit-inducing carnival rides, and more unfortunately, creeping on older female lifeguards, the beloved 1990s family flick The Sandlot turns 30 today. Yes, it’s been three whole decades since The Sandlot first came out, which is nearly the amount of time that exists between the movie’s release and its 1960s setting.
Before you go ruining your day by thinking about the cruelly relentless passage of time, we’ve collected 30 pieces of trivia about the movie, like…
Director David Mickey Evans Came Up With the Idea After Being Fired
Evans was fired from his first movie Radio Flyer (which he also scripted) just “10 days into production,” reportedly because the studio executives weren't happy with the dailies. Evans knew he needed a killer movie idea that would be “clean” and “simple” to rehabilitate his Hollywood reputation.
The Original Script Wasn’t About Baseball
Evans’ original idea for what became The Sandlot was a script called The Boys of Summer, but weirdly, it wasn’t about baseball at first.
It Was Written for Younger Kids
The Sandlot was “originally written for 9- and 10-year-old actors,” but when they cast kids that age, a producer remarked, “Oh my God, they look like babies.” So the production had to recast the leads “with 12- and 13-year-olds.”
It Was Tom Guiry’s Film Debut
The role of Scotty Smalls was filled by 11-year-old Guiry, who was actually making his film debut.
The Actor Who Played Squints Was Previously in ‘Father of the Bride’
Not every kid actor was a newbie, as Chauncey Leopardi, who played Squints, had previously appeared in the Steve Martin remake of Father of the Bride and an episode of L.A. Law.
The Kids Had to Attend a Two-Week Baseball Camp
To prepare for the shoot, the young actors attended baseball camp, where they were “taught how to hit, catch, and throw.” This was also partly an economic decision — if the kids knew how to play baseball, fewer takes would be required.
The Chewing Tobacco Wasn’t Real (Thankfully)
For the scene that inspired a generation of kids to never, ever try chewing tobacco (at least not at county fairs), the “fake dip” used in the movie was made of “licorice and bacon bits,” which was just as gross and caused most of the kids to hurl for real.
PF Flyers Were Brought Back Thanks to the Movie
Benny’s sweet PF Flyers reportedly "stoked public interest" in the defunct sneaker brand — probably because they were said to be “guaranteed to make a kid run faster and jump higher” — and the shoe was revived by New Balance in 2001.
The Kid Actors Snuck into ‘Basic Instinct’
During the production, the kids snuck into the definitely not kid-friendly Basic Instinct.
The Beast Was Inspired by a Real Dog
Much of the movie was based on Evans’ childhood, including the mythical “Beast,” which came from a real incident involving his brother’s attempt to recover a baseball from a neighbor’s yard. But in real life, Evans’ brother didn’t befriend an elderly ex-ball player; he just “ended up getting attacked by the dog.”
The Beast Was Sometimes Two Dudes in a Dog Suit
Filming the scenes with the Beast sometimes required a real dog, and other times, it required two full-grown men in a giant dog costume.
The Special Effects Supervisor Played Pizza the Hutt in ‘Spaceballs’
The animatronic dog heads were created by visual effects whiz Rick Lazzarini, who also worked on Spaceballs, in which he also played Pizza the Hutt.
Denis Leary Refused to Wear a Yankees Glove
Prop master Terry Haskell handed Leary a glove with a Mickey Mantle signature, prompting him to complain, “Terry, for god sakes, you’ve given me a Yankee glove, and I’m a Boston fan. I’m not wearing this.”
The Dodger Stadium Shoot Only Happened Thanks to Tommy Lasorda
The movie ends with a flashforward to modern-day Dodger Stadium, but getting permission to shoot there was “impossible,” according to Evans. It only happened after the director of photography walked him into Dodger Stadium, breezed past security and found Lasorda sitting in his office "in his underwear," who casually agreed to let them film there.
The Real-Life Squints Sued the Filmmakers for Outing Him as a Nerd
Evans’ former classmate, who was seemingly the inspiration for Squints, sued the production, annoyed that his movie namesake was a big nerd, whereas he had subsequently gotten “contact lenses, had his teeth fixed and put his nerd past behind him.” He lost the case.
Evans Didn’t Think They Could Get James Earl Jones
The role of Mr. Mertle wasn’t explicitly written for any actor. When assistant director Bill Elvin, who had previously worked on Field of Dreams, suggested Jones, Evans responded, “Yeah, fat chance, we're never going to get James Earl Jones.”
The Actor Who Played Babe Ruth Also Played the Tooth Fairy in the ‘Santa Clause’ Movies
For the dream sequence featuring Babe Ruth, the Great Bambino was played by character actor Art LaFleur…
…who you might also recognize as the Tooth Fairy from the Santa Clause movies.
He Was Also in ‘Field of Dreams’
LaFleur had “dead baseball player” experience prior to The Sandlot — he was in Field of Dreams as Chick Gandil.
The Pool Scene Came with a Stern Warning
While shooting the notorious pool scene, Evans warned his young actor, “You keep your tongue in your mouth, understand?”
Two Kids Learned CPR From the Movie and Saved Their Dad’ s Life
Squints creeping on a lifeguard inadvertently saved a man's life; 10-year-old twins performed CPR on their unconscious father, which they “remembered seeing in his favorite movies The Sandlot and Hook.”
Evans Went on to Write Another, Somewhat Less Beloved Baseball Movie
Evans later wrote the somewhat less iconic Ed, the movie featuring both Matt LeBlanc and a baseball-playing chimp. We’ll see if it generates any 30th-anniversary retrospectives.
There’s a Straight-to-Video Sequel
Evans later wrote and directed the 2005 straight-to-video sequel The Sandlot 2, focusing on a new group of kids led by Scott Smalls’ little brother. Somehow they also convinced James Earl Jones to come back.
And There’s a Third Movie About… Time Travel?
The Sandlot 2 was followed by The Sandlot: Heading Home, all about a major league player, played by Luke Perry, who takes a ball to the head and ends up being thrown back in time to his sandlot days.
The Yankees (Awkwardly) Recreated a Classic Scene
The Yankees filmed an attempt to act out a classic scene and uploaded it to the internet for everyone to see for some reason.
And So Did the Milwaukee Brewers
Seriously, why was this a thing? These should have counted as victories in the other NL Central and AL East teams’ win/loss records those seasons.
It Was Screened at Dodger Stadium in 2013
Despite the aforementioned hassle in getting to film there, The Sandlot was screened at Dodgers Stadium following a 2013 game.
Sharon Van Etten Named an Album After a ‘Sandlot’ Quote
Van Etten’s most recent album is called We've Been Going About This All Wrong, which she later admitted was a line from The Sandlot. The Sandlot nod wasn’t a throwaway reference; Van Etten rewatched the movie, a personal favorite, with her son during the pandemic.
A Prequel Has Been in Development Since 2018
Multiple reports have dropped about a prequel being in the works, with Evans co-writing the script. But it remains to be seen if it will see the light of day.
It Only Became a Hit Thanks to Home Video
The Sandlot wasn't a huge success in theaters but found its fans thanks to the booming home video market. As Evans told the L.A. Times, “The movie arrived at the right time, in technological terms, for distribution on all these new, expanding sorts of platforms.”
A Fan Made Headlines for Not Recognizing the Actors
A guy wearing a Sandlot T-shirt ran into two of the movie’s stars, Patrick Renna and Tom Guiry, but didn’t recognize the now-adult actors, cluelessly agreeing to take a photo which, naturally, went viral.
You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).