Apparently, April 7 is a good day to launch baseball movies. Today, 45 years ago and 28 years ago, two of the best baseball movies were released.
On this day, in 1976, the Bad News Bears was released. The movie is about a crappy little league team with Walter Matthau as as an alcoholic ex-baseball pitcher who becomes their coach. It is clear he only does it for the money, parents are paying him because in the beginning he is not motivated at all. The team contains mostly rejects that were not accepted at other teams because they were simply not good enough. The team is formed as a compromise to a lawsuit brought against the Southern California Youth Baseball League for excluding such players from other teams. When the coach named Morris Buttermaker convinces two other players to join the team, it starts winning and eventually makes it to the championship game.
The movie contains certain things you would not see in a “children’s” movie nowadays: smoking, heavy drinking, cussing.
In 2005, a remake of the “Bad News Bears” was made, starring Billy Bob Thornton as Morris Buttermaker. The movie was nice but it never reached the level of the original.
Now let’s fast-forward to 1993.
On this day, the movie “The Sandlot” was released. The movie is literally about a sandlot and the kids that play there. The movie starts with a new kid that is coming to town when his mom and her new husband are moving. Scotty Smalls as the kid is called, has a hard time making friends but eventually, he is approached by Benny Rodriguez, the leader of the pack of kids that is playing at the sandlot.
During the movie, a ball is hit over the fence, so Scotty Smalls decides to go home to take a ball from his stepfather’s collection. Since he doesn’t have a clue about the history of baseball, he is taking a ball signed by Babe Ruth. Also that ball is hit over the fence of an adjacent garden. When the boys figure out that the ball was signed by Babe Ruth, they do everything possible to get the ball back. But since the garden is guarded by a BIG dog, who has eaten a kid according to a neighbourhood legend, it is a daunting task. Eventually they manage to get the ball back and get into contact with the owner of the dog, a blind man who played in the Negro Leagues, performed by James Earl Jones.
At the end of the movie, Smalls has become the play-by-play announcer of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez a star player of the same club.
For many this movie is a walk down memory lane as it shows memories of their past.
The members of the cast that played the group of kids, make some appearances at Minor League games nowadays.
Two sequels have been made of the Sandlot, but none of them ever came close to the original.