The Sandlot grossed only a hair over $30 million when it first came out and garnered lukewarm reviews from critics. In the years since, though, thanks to cable re-runs (it’s always on TV in the US), home video, merchandise, and word-of-mouth, the film has become a staple of the American entertainment diet.

It’s the rare sports film to be totally and unabashedly in love with the sport it’s about while still being accessible (and relatable) to people who have never played it. It’s a baseball movie, of course, but it’s also about youthful naiveté, about nicknames, and about interacting with a world before it can corrupt you, when the worst that could happen to anyone is to be gobbled up by the dog next door. The Sandlot is about discovery and imagination. It’s not about “making it” or “winning the big game.”

And yet, there is something deeply nostalgic, romantic even, about baseball in particular—and The Sandlot knew how to bring that out. Maybe it’s the sport’s storied history filled with towering, larger-than-life figures (like the aforementioned Ruth). Maybe it’s the unique aural pleasure of hearing the ball hit the barrel of the bat in the perfect spot. Maybe it’s the smell of hot dogs and fresh-cut grass, the seventh inning stretch (and other weird traditions), the dirt on the pants, the dust clouds that follow a slide into second base, the salty sting of sunflower seeds as they marinate on your tongue.

It also helps the film’s longevity that it remains so quotable. You’ve probably heard, or perhaps even said, “You’re killin’ me Smalls” even if you’ve never seen The Sandlot. You’ve seen “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die” on someone’s memorial or obituary. You or someone you know can recite all the Babe Ruth epithets, from “The Colossus of Clout” to “The King of Crash.”

The Sandlot was all of this distilled into a quippy, 100-minute snapshot of Americana that today feels almost like an ancient relic. It’s easy to reduce the past to “simpler times” and ignore the reality that this was never the case, but the past of The Sandlot was indeed a simpler time and place. Maybe not a real one, but a true one, tapping into that week or month or year or decade in our lives when it didn’t matter—to you, at least—what world leaders were saying (or tweeting) to each other. What mattered was the crack of the bat, the rumble of fireworks, and that untouchable feeling of playing a game with your friends in a vacant lot.

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