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5 Life Lessons from The Sandlot

Jun 7, 2016

Summer is here in Arizona!

Summer in Arizona Lord of the Rings The Sandlot

We just completed 4 days of record-breaking heat in Phoenix. This year is the earliest it’s hit 115 degrees in recorded history. It may be a dry heat, but it’s still really hot!

Whenever it gets this hot, I’m reminded of my favorite movie as a kid, The Sandlot. And one of my favorite lines from the movie. “Benny, it’s too hot to play baseball!”

The Sandlot movie poster

If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s a quick summary from IMDB. “Scotty Smalls (I loved another awkward kid with double S initials) moves to a new neighborhood with his mom and stepdad, and wants to learn to play baseball. The neighborhood baseball guru Rodriquez takes Smalls under his wing, and soon he’s part of the local baseball buddies. They fall into adventures involving baseball, treehouse sleep-ins, the desirous lifeguard at the local pool, the snooty rival ball team, and the travelling fair. Beyond the fence at the back of the sandlot menaces a legendary ball-eating dog called The Beast, and the kids inevitably must deal with him.” (If you haven’t seen the film, check out a brief trailer here.)

The older I get, the more I quote my favorite lines and the more nostalgia sets in, making the movie better in my mind than it probably is.

5 Life Lessons from The Sandlot

As I was sweating in record heat this weekend, I began reflecting on the biggest takeaways from the film. These insights are for all of us – baseball fans or not.

1. Never underestimate the power of wonder.

-These boys are full of wonder. Whether it’s their love for Babe Ruth (“The Colossus of Clout”, “The Sultan of Swat”, “The Great Bambino”), a unforgettable trip to circus or the beauty of Wendy the lifeguard, wonder is everywhere in this film. We live in a world which robs us of wonder. From Mythbusters to the power of Google, we learn all we can and as a result, familiarity kills wonder. Yet, wonder drives our creativity, passion and imagination. The power of Sandlot is largely rooted in the wonder which frames the boys view of the world.

2. Great stories are born out of adversity.

-The great problem of the film comes when Scotty tries to save the day by supplying a baseball for boys to continue their game. However, the ball turns out to have been signed by Babe Ruth and it is lost. How will they get the ball back? The adversity born of this crisis creates an incredible story. In our lives, our best stories are born out of adversity. While moments of adversity and crisis are often frustrating and painful, we can say from the middle of it, “this is going to make a great story one day.” The stories we tell during a long road trip, after a great meal or around a fire are not the stories of ease but the ones which emerged from difficulty, pain and suffering.

3. Embrace our weirdness.

-One of my favorite scenes in The Sandlot happens just before the movie ends. The narrator (Scotty Smalls) tells the story of what happened with each character as they grew up into adulthood. Throughout the movie and during this summary scene, we learn about each boy’s quirks. Yet, it is these very quirks which make them stand out. Like the boys in The Sandlot, we’re all weird. In an effort to fit in and gain acceptance from others, we often minimize our weirdness. We try to measure up to someone else’s expectations for us. Yet, it is our weirdness and unique makeup which allow us to stand out and offer something special and needed to our corner of the world. One of the beautiful things about the internet is we now can recognize and identify other people who share and appreciate our weirdness.

4. Heroes get remembered but legends never die.

-Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez gets an interesting nighttime visit from a famous baseball player. During their conversation, this player tells Benny, “heroes get remembered but legends never die.” Benny is challenged to take bold steps he has previously resisted and avoided. This scene reminds us that we don’t get to pick the defining moments in our lives. But courage in those moments makes all the difference. Legends emerge from courageous acts during defining moments. We often admire courageous vulnerability in others but resist in ourselves. A few seconds of courage can change everything.

5. We all need people.

-The film opens with Awkward Scotty needing friends in his new town. His mom encourages him to stop playing with his toys in his bedroom and go get into trouble outside. The friends he makes on the sandlot change his life.

The same principle applies to us. Friends make life better. Friends make the victories sweeter and the defeats easier to swallow. The truth is we don’t know how much we need people until we need people. In the moment when we need a community of friends, it’s too late to build a foundation of friends. We have to develop friendships when we don’t “need” them, so we’ll have them when we do. The best things in life are shared. One of the reasons I think The Sandlot continues to be a fan favorite is because we long for the kind of community these boys exhibit. This kind of community is not a fictional experience, it can be our story too.

If you haven’t seen The Sandlot, you can watch it on Netflix.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments (on my site or on social media)…

What’s your favorite movie from your childhood? What makes it special for you?

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