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Sandlot, The Purest Baseball Game

When you think of the word Sandlot, what comes to mind is the movie that portrayed nine neighborhood kids meeting at a deserted and broken down baseball field, to just play ball.

The term Sandlot originated in San Francisco in the 1870’s, but we all know it as an iconic place where dreams are born and memories can be made. Where a kid sees himself as one of the greats like Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr. or even Nolan Ryan.

The best part of just showing up to a dirt field with your buddies is that there are no coaches, instructors, parents or fans, just enough kids to fill each position on the field and play like no one is watching, which in reality no one is.

The game has evolved so much over the last two decades that just going out and playing baseball for fun has become an ancient event. Not to mention that kids nowadays don’t go outside as much to just run around, because they are stuck to their video games and phones and that seems to be more important than pure exercise of their bodies and minds.

I am under the belief that if the kids would just go outside and pick up a ball and play on their own, they will realize how much joy is out there, then just being cooped up in the house and missing out on life.

When it comes to actually participating in sports, a lot of kids are put into local leagues by their parents and given to coaches and trainers to teach them how to play a game and then direct them in every aspect of the game. But what is being lost in all of that, is just the most obvious part, the kids are not actually playing the game, they are being told what to do.

That is why the Sandlot game is the most important game in a child’s life because it not only gets them out of the home unforced, it also teaches them lessons on making decisions, on just communicating with others and best part its in person and not on a screen.

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You will always have the kids who are better, the kids who want it more, but on the Sandlot, everyone can dream big, and there are no adults to criticize a kid for not hustling hard enough or for making a mistake; there are only kids that will learn to understand the game on their own and figure out how to get through all the adversities the game can bring.

I coach rec baseball in the 13-16 age group and I preach all the time to the kids to get out and just play, but how many actually do that, probably just a few, if any.

So rather then just preach to them, I decided to make it happen and I invited the league kids during the last Thanksgiving break to join me at the field for a good old Sandlot game.

When the kids arrived I had just three rules, respect each other, play fair and have fun.

I chose two captains, took a bat and gave it to a kid to toss it straight up in the air and one kid caught it with one hand and they were off. Two teams, nine on each and enough time to figure out how to play a game by themselves.

The two teams were chosen and at one point I felt like maybe I should have picked the teams myself, because it was very apparent that one team (The Bull Dogs) had the biggest advantage with size and possibly even talent over the other (El Conquistadors).

Each captain made their lineups and placed the kids in positions and the game was ready to start.

As pitchers threw the ball over the plate and batters attempted to put the ball in play, calls of balls or strikes could be heard all over the park, and occasionally they would look at me for a decision, and my response was, “I have no idea, figure it out,” and sure enough that is what they did, they figured it out and it was the best baseball game I have seen in ages.

At one point there was a play at the plate and from my vantage point the runner was out, but I stayed quiet and when both teams could not come up with a decision, they decided the only way was to play Rock Paper Scissors and a decision was made, it was amazing to witness. And the decision after that was the runner was out.

After a few innings, the Bull Dogs were up 5-1, then it was 6-3, then 6-5, and in the bottom of the last inning and with two outs,  El Conquistadors came back and shocked the world and won the game 7-6.  It was a game filled with fun, great memories and most of all each kid walked away with a better sense of how to just play the game for fun, work together and just figure it all out. Is there anything better?

I want to send out a challenge to other coaches all over this country and possibly even the world; put down your whistle, clip boards and radar guns and just invite the kids out to the field and sit back and just watch them play. I will tell you it’s the best experience, not only will you enjoy it, but it will be an experience the kids will always remember and maybe even walk away learning something new about this great game.

Sandlot Baseball, nothing better. Play Ball!!

 

 

David is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck®, as well as a Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. David was a Senior Editor for MetsMerizedOnline.com, MetsMinors.net and Contributor for Hardballchat.com that spanned from 2010 to 2014. David made his MLB Debut as a writer in June 2014, while covering the NY Mets at Citi Field, for MetsmerizedOnline.com. David also managed his Cape Coral 16U Rec Ball team for the past two seasons and on May 13, 2024 they won their league Championship. On May 15th, David started the first ever Legends on Deck 16U Travel Baseball team in SWFL. David's passion is teaching the game he loves to the future Legends of Tomorrow as well as making available a website that people can have fun sharing and reading. David is also passionate about his career as a Mortgage Loan Officer which allows him to help many families reach their dreams of owning a home. Connect with David via his Social Media pages as he loves to chat all about baseball.

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