19 Things You Might Not Know About The Sandlot
What, you haven’t seen The Sandlot? You’re killing me, Smalls.
OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Roger Ebert got it right: The Sandlot is like the summer version of A Christmas Story. They’re not penned by the same screenwriter and they don’t share a director or even actors, but both make you feel nostalgic for a childhood you probably didn’t even have.
No matter how many times you’ve watched Squints execute his plan to get to first base with Wendy Peffercorn, there’s bound to be something you don’t know about this modern classic. Here are 19 of our favorite Sandlot secrets.
2. The movie was inspired in part by a childhood experience writer/director David Mickey Evans’ brother had. Some older boys wouldn’t let Evans play baseball with him. When they lost a ball over a brick wall, he thought he could get on their good side by retrieving it for them. When he hopped the wall, however, he found a giant dog named Hercules waiting for him—and he was bitten.
3. It was shot in just 42 days.
4. Casting directors originally wanted the kids to be 9 to 10 years old, but as they began casting, "it became obvious real fast the kids were much too young," Evans told Sports Illustrated. "So I said, 'We've got to make them 12 or 13.' We knew it was the right decision instantly, because the first kid that we interviewed was Mike Vitar [who played Benny Rodriguez]."
5. The giant oak tree that holds the treehouse was salvaged. The production crew had been agonizing over how they were going to pull off a tree that size—"We were looking at having to buy an oak tree, and a specimen that big, if you can even find one, is hundreds of thousands of dollars," Evans told Sports Illustrated—when they happened to notice one being chopped down not far from the production offices. The 100-year-old oak was interfering with the foundation of the house it was planted next to. The man removing it agreed to give it to the crew, and Salt Lake City’s utility companies took down power and telephone lines on certain streets so the tree could be hauled safely to the empty lot where filming was taking place. It was cemented into the ground there and became an iconic part of the movie.
6. Marty York, the actor who played Alan “Yeah-Yeah” McClennan, originally read for Bertram.
7. Not only did York not get the Bertram role, he wasn’t the first choice for Yeah-Yeah, either. The kid cast for Yeah-Yeah got sick just as the movie was scheduled to start filming, and York replaced him.
8. The chewing tobacco from the carnival scene was really made out of licorice and bacon bits—and that, the actors later said, combined with riding the carnival rides for so many takes, made them as sick as their fictional counterparts got.
9. The vomit from that scene, by the way, was a mixture of split pea soup, baked beans, oatmeal, water, and gelatin.
10. It was so hot during the daytime shoots—upwards of 110 degrees—that the actor who played Scotty Smalls, Tom Guiry, got weak from running around in the heat and fell into one of the cameramen.
11. On the other hand, the famous pool scene was actually freezing. The day was overcast and the water was just 56 degrees. Evans says you can actually see Squints’ teeth chattering while he’s staring longingly at Wendy Peffercorn from the pool.
12. Speaking of the Squints scam, Evans had to give actor Chauncey Leopardi a stern reminder before the scene was shot: “You keep your tongue in your mouth, you understand?”
13. Wendy was partly based on a girl Evans remembers from his childhood—a lifeguard in a red bathing suit named Bunny.
14. Remember the scene where Ham trades insults with a hotshot from a “real” team?
Those were largely unscripted. The director was feeding Patrick Renna those insults off camera right before the scene rolled.
15. The kids were super impressed that Darth Vader was onset—James Earl Jones, of course, played junkyard owner Mr. Mertle. They were almost as taken with Marley Shelton (Wendy).
16. When the young cast wasn’t acting, they were getting into shenanigans that their Sandlot alter egos surely would have been proud of—they snuck in to see Basic Instinct.
17. The Beast—aka Hercules, an English Mastiff—was played, in part, by a puppet. It took two people to operate. If you don’t mind ruining the movie magic, you can see the behind-the-scenes photos at director David Mickey Evans’ blog.
18. Some scenes with the Beast called for a real dog (two, actually). When Smalls and Hercules make friends at the end, they got the dog to lick his face by smearing baby food on one half of Tom Guiry’s face. "That scene where I’m looking to the side, the other half of me is just slathered in this baby goo. That dog had a field day on my face," Guiry told Time. "I’m a dog-lover though, so it didn’t really bother me.”
19. The Sandlot was at the center of a lawsuit that eventually had a major impact on Hollywood. A man named Michael Polydoros sued 20th Century Fox, claiming that his former classmate, David Mickey Evans, had based the character of Michael “Squints” Palledorous on him, and that it caused him embarrassment and humiliation. A judge decided that there wasn’t enough similarity to justify the lawsuit, meaning that movie studios could continue using characters inspired in part by real-life people.