Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sports Talk: Summer and The Sandlot

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published July 3, 2013.  
I could not help but noticed how timely it seemed that I had the opportunity to interview with former St. Louis Cardinal and Casey County graduate, Don Durham.
It’s hard for me to believe that it was twenty years ago that one of my generation’s favorite childhood movies first came to the big screen: The Sandlot. The coming-of-age film is the story of a young group of baseball players during the summer of 1962.
A ragtag bunch of kids, for the most part, they all know everything there is to know about America’s greatest pastime and they all dream of playing in the big leagues. They meet up daily and almost always it’s at their neighborhood ball field. The end of the film tells you that one of those boys went on to play major league baseball.
A great summer movie, The Sandlot was my first trip to the drive-in theater—another great summer activity from yesteryear that carries a sense of romance. For that reason, the movie has always brought back to me a sense of summer fun and freedom you only find in your youth.
Hearing Don’s story recently brought that fictional story to life. I attended Middleburg Elementary as a youngster in Casey County and I remember the old, fairly unused baseball fields in the area. We never really used them for the sport during my elementary years and I never thought much of these fields. I wasn’t sure if anyone used them and why they were even there.
But these fields were exactly the special places The Sandlot, as a movie had to create in order to bring forth a sense of summer fun and childhood dreams. The difference is the fields I looked upon, empty, in my childhood, were the real fields where stories like The Sandlot truly took place—and Don Durham is living proof of those stories.
In addition to Don’s story, the Fourth of July tends to make me think of this classic movie also. I spent three college summers working for the Governor’s Scholars Program at Bellarmine Unviersity. With over 300 students on campus, it was quite costly to transport the entire group off campus. It was always a disappointment for students to find out they would be missing out on any firework shows for Independence Day, but it just did not fit the budget.
Instead, the program would have a big-screen showing of The Sandlot for the Fourth. Not only was it a great summer movie, but one scene includes a great firework show, so in some sense, the students got their fireworks for the holiday.
For those in school, summer is already half over. It may not be 1962 anymore, but be sure to get outside and enjoy all that makes summer, summer: swimming, carnivals, baseball, fireworks, drive-in movies and most importantly fun with friends.
If you need any inspiration, try watching The Sandlot. If you’ve never seen it, you may finally understand when someone says to you, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

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