Lessons From The Sandlot


Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108037/
Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108037/

If life imitates movies then we’re in a lot of trouble. However, if we imitate the lessons found in some of the better movies out there, we can leave a lasting impression on everyone around us.


You can tell a lot about a person by their favorite movies or books. My favorite genre of movies or books are those where an adult narrates as he/she recalls a story from long ago. For example: Fried Green Tomatoes, Where the Red Ferns Grow, and The Sandlot.

Sandlot is among my favorites. It’s not only funny and interesting, but has some coming of age lessons that aren’t just for kids. If we want to live above our potential, and flourish in our relationships, we need to pickle the beasts in our lives.

Here are a few tips:


The scene where poor Smalls made a fool of himself trying to catch a fly ball, brought this lesson home. Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez (Benny), the leader of the team, quickly assessed the hypocrisy of the situation as the other kids laughed hysterically and name-called. Rodriguez looked directly at the one laughing the loudest and asked,

What are you laughing at Yeah Yeah? You run like a duck!”

Alan “Yeah Yeah” McClennan: …Kay kay, but I’m… I’m…

 Rodriguez: Part of the game right?

Lesson here is to examine our own lives before judging someone else’s. Could be we recognize the speck in the eye of another because we see it so clearly through our own. It’s often easy to forget we’re on the same team.


“Face up you blockheads!”

In the best of friendships, there are times when real friends have to speak the truth to each other whether it’s convenient or not. Benny spoke these immortal words after he called out the hypocrites among them.

Baseball-1 Instead of standing there looking like a ball in high weeds, they wiped off the allegorical cold-water-to-the-face and stood back and watched as Benny showed them what the main focus was; to help his inexperienced friend learn new skills.

Lesson here is: We’re part of a team and we help each other succeed by holding each other accountable to a higher standard. Then, we share what we’ve learned so that we can walk together unhindered.


You can do it you know.”

Benny saw what his friend, Smalls, couldn’t see. Smalls would have never put the glove back on had it not been for his new found friend. Get off the dead horse even if you don’t see a new one to get on. In other words, Rodriguez painted an allegorical picture of what could be with words of encouragement; there’s another horse (or game) out there somewhere. He gave his friend something to aim for.


When possible, defer to the heart. Benny was destined to be a great ballplayer. Smalls was content to sit in the background and bask in the glory of his friend. Both followed their dreams even though completely different. The cool thing about it was, however different, they complimented each other; the friendship made it even better. Lesson here is:

Some run to win and some report the victories. Both love what they do and that’s all that counts.


 Sometimes you’ve got to stop striving to be the best at everything and just be best at what you do. Just as there are different subjects in school, we excel at some and have to work harder at another. A’s are good if you learned something. But it isn’t EVERYTHING.

Will making straight A’s get your car fixed or help you know whether or not you look good in highlights?

Find some balance. Clear your mind of details that don’t matter so you can focus on the things that do. Benny Rodriguez gave us the best insight on how to overcome failure and saddle up again when he said to Smalls,

Man, this is baseball. You gotta stop thinking. Just have fun. I mean, if you were having fun you would’ve caught that ball.” 


Fake it til you make it and don’t show fear.

 Fancy uniforms don’t build confidence. In the scene where the Little League pretty boys came around and challenged the sandlot boys to a game, they threw off the city team’s confidence by showing that they could hold their own. I laughed through the whole banter back and forth between the two. Especially when Porter talked trash to the opposing team from his position as a catcher. Thanks to him, one of my favorite daily exasperated exclamations for people-who-don’t-get-it is:

“You’re killing me, Smalls!” 

Of course, the conversation ended and the game was on when Porter said those now infamous words,

“You play ball like a girl!”

And they beat the crap out of them.

Who’s the big-bad now?

So, the lesson here is to keep your wit and humor in your pocket, ready to draw at a moment’s notice. I used to have a poster hung on the wall in my room at school that said, “Never enter a battle of wits unarmed.” Arm yourself, just in case.


When the time came to face the beast, Benny had to pull out his secret weapon – PF Flyers – the shoe guaranteed to make a kid run faster and jump higher. I don’t know how the tennis shoe commercial got away with that, but I digress. The narrator told us that PF Flyers were called the “secret weapon”. Maybe the power was not in the shoes but in the confidence he had in them to support him in his quest.

 When he jumped over that fence and “pickled the beast”, the team found out that the beast wasn’t as bad as they thought. With a new-found attitude, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez was born and the rest is baseball history.

 While there are a ton of lessons to be learned from this story, these few suggestions are a good start. No matter what your personality, adhering to these principles will work in almost every situation you find yourself in.

If the movies we like reveal a lot about our personalities, I might have to think awhile on why I’m inclined to prefer Major Payne or Dangerous Minds over chick flicks.

…but that’s a story for another day.








3 Comments on Lessons From The Sandlot

  1. Thank you so much! I usually post on Loganvillelocal.org. I began a book years ago in hopes that it would be in the style of Art Linkletter and his funny responses from kids, entitled, “Ode To A Toddler Teacher and Other Tales From The Crib”.
    My hopes were to write a small book that could be given to teachers (who have endless funny stories to tell about kids) as gifts. It’s still in the works and I share some of them on my Loganville blog space. I also have my family series entitled, “Close Encounters Of The Mother Kind,” and a series on dealing with aging parents as a caregiver entitled, “Out Of The Ozone”.
    Part four of “How many kids…(attached below)” will be ready soon, but if you’d like to take a gander at these others and offer some critiquing, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks, Tammy

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