I have had several (few) people come up to me recently and say “hey, Rankster, you claim to love sports so much, but none of your posts have been about sports.” Well fear not, hypothetical critics, for this list is all about sports (well, kinda).
Everyone remembers where they were the first time they saw Sandlot. I was in 4th grade and every Friday we could trade in tickets we had earned over the week to go to different rooms with different activities set up. I chose movies every Friday for the first semester and the very first week the movie playing was none other than Sandlot. I was immediately invested from the jump. The characters were so relatable and engaging, the soundtrack was weirdly nostalgic for having a bunch of songs on it that came out 30 years before I was born, and it was about baseball (did I mention I love sports)! By the time the credits rolled, I had a new favorite sports movie.
Anytime Sandlot comes on TV, I have to cancel plans so I can catch it in its entirety (never mind the fact that I own it on DVD). Its a beautiful coming of age story that deals with campouts, crushes, and getting into trouble, stuff we all can relate to. The characters make the movie though, and after watching Sandlot for what seems like the 100th time I decided it was finally time to comb through the lineup and put numbers to faces.
It’s been a while since we’ve done a ranker so in case you’re a little rusty, the rules are as follows: 5 criterion are assigned to the cast of the movie, each ranked 1-10 with a composite score given to each character. Below are the five categories:
Likability: How likable was this character? Would you have hung out with him when you were 12?
Plot-centric: How important is this character to the plot? If they disappeared would it affect the movie?
Humor: How funny was this character every time he appeared on screen? Any great one liners?
Memorability: Even years after seeing the movie, how well do you remember this character? This is sort of an amalgamation of the first three categories.
Baseball Skill: How good was this character at their position? Hitting? Fielding?
I’m as anxious as you are to get started so let’s not waste anymore time. We’ll offer up the opening pitch with an obvious one…
9. Tommy “Repeat” Timmons: 27/50 (54%)
Likability – 5.5/10: We all had that one tagalong in our group growing up that was typically a lot younger and usually a sibling of one of our friends. That pest in the Sandlot clan just happened to be Timmy Timmons’ little brother, Tommy, better known as Repeat. Repeat earned his namesake for offering nothing original to the discourse. He would just echo whatever his older brother would say. It had its moments throughout the movie, but the gag just grew tiresome after a while. To say that Repeat was the least likable character in the movie would be arguable, as he doesn’t score the absolute lowest score in this category, beating out only one other teammate on the list. He is, however, quite insufferable throughout the run time of the movie, so you can only imagine what he would be like if you had to play with him everyday of the summer.
Plot – 5/10: Again, what exactly did Repeat contribute to this movie, plot-wise? He just stands around and plagiarizes everything his older, slightly cooler sibling says. He’s the worst baseball player of the bunch by virtue of being the youngest (more on that later), and he does nothing in the third act of the movie to help retrieve the Babe Ruth Ball. Yeah Yeah is the one on the pulley system and Smalls offers up his Erector Set prowess, but Repeat sits back and does jack in terms of getting back what may have been the most important piece of sports memorabilia of the mid-20th century.
Humor – 6/10: Similar to his brother, Repeat has his moments. Some of the things he repeats from Timmy and the subsequent reaction he gets from his piers offers some solid laughs, but as I mentioned, the humor starts to lose its punch in the second half of the movie. The shocked covering of the eyes during Squints’ bold move on Wendy Peffercorn adds a nice bit of visual humor, but its subtle at best.
Memorability – 5.5/10: If it seems like this ranker has turned into “Comedy Central’s Roast of Repeat,” its because Tommy Timmons has next to zero redeeming qualities to his name (harsh criticism for a fictional child, yes). He only outranks his brother in this category because he almost always gets the last word in, but he has very few memorable lines in the movie, with his exacerbated “The Colossus of Clout” easily being his best quote. Be honest, you didn’t leave the theater/living room/classroom with any overt fondness towards Repeat, right?
Baseball Skills – 5/10: Repeat was the youngest of the Sandlot crew, so naturally he was the weakest link on an otherwise unbeatable machine. A contact hitter who could use his speed to get down the line quickly, the smaller Timmons was a bit of a one trick pony at the plate and the fact that he was still several years from puberty meant he was a bit of a liability in the infield, both from an arm strength and range perspective. If I was managing that team, Repeat would be my 9 hitter eight days a week and twice on Sunday.
8. Bertram Grover Weeks: 29/50 (58%)
Likability – 5/10: Was there anyone more insufferable in this movie than Bertram? The answer, of course, is no. Look, I know I just spent the last five paragraphs flaming Repeat, but Bertram didn’t have the excuse of being the “tagalong younger brother” at his disposal. On top of that, he had more lines than Repeat and all of them seemed to just grate at me the longer the movie went on. He wasn’t charming like Benny, nor was he funny like Ham or Squints. He was just Bertram, and that meant he was generally kind of a know-it-all and a bit of a jerk, all things considered.
Plot-centric – 6/10: Bertram benefits extremely from one scene in the entire movie: the infamous carnival scene. Other than offering chewing tobacco to the crew (and making them deathly ill in the process), Bertram does nothing to help advance the plot. He’s just an above average baseball player who offers nothing along the lines of furthering the film along. If Bertram were taken out of the movie and replaced with another lanky 2nd baseman, we would be deprived of one of the great 90’s gross out scenes in cinema history, but other than that he’s rather useless.
Humor – 5/10: Quick, name one line Bertram offered up that you legitimately laughed at! Thats what I thought. Bertram didn’t have a single funny line in this movie… Okay he had one: right after Squints pretends to drown but before he kisses Wendy, Bertram exclaims “he looks like shit!” Its deadpan and the timing is brilliant, but aside from that, Bertram lacks the funny bone so many others on that team possessed.
Memorability – 5/10: As I mentioned in the Plot category, Bertram is memorable if only for the Big Chief scene at the carnival. He doesn’t have any memorable scenes or quotable lines throughout the entire movie. I really don’t have much else to say about Bertram in this particular instance only that he seems to be one of the better players on the team, if only for his size. Speaking of which…
Baseball Skills – 8/10: What Bertram lacks in, well, everything, he makes up for in his skill on the diamond. A great defensive infielder, Bertram had length and a great arm at second base. He was able to get around with ease in the infield and his long legs gave him sneaky speed getting down the line, much like a Christian Yelich. At the plate, Bertram had a solid bat and could hit for average as well as power, and the aforementioned long legs made him a danger on the base paths.
7. Timmy Timmons: 29.5/50 (59%)
Likability – 6/10: To be fair, there was nothing really unlikable about the elder Timmons, but he didn’t exactly give off the “need to have around” vibe either. Timmy was just your run of the mill friend who never said or did anything too out of the ordinary. He was a bit smarmy at times and him bringing his brother everywhere are both things that bring this score down, but he wasn’t an awful human being nor did he direct any personal ridicule at Smalls during the infancy of his baseball career.
Plot-Centric – 5/10: Much like his younger brother, Timmy doesn’t bring too much to the table here in terms of importance to the plot. Yes, he does come up with the pulley system to help retrieve the ball from Hercules, but that proves to be ultimately futile and a moot point at best. Timmy has been relegated to a secondary/borderline tertiary character in terms of prominence in the film. He should be happy he’s on the team, otherwise he’d be completely irrelevant to the movie.
Humor – 6/10: Timmy’s entire score in this category gets saved by one line. In the ever-popular drowning scene, right as Squints goes in for the kill on Wendy, Timmy utters the immortal words, “Oh man, he’s in deep shit!” Hearing that come out of a kid’s mouth as he watches his best bud try to stick his tongue down an older girl’s throat is just poetic, as we could easily hear ourselves saying the same thing. The timing is great and the delivery is timeless. Other than that, Timmy doesn’t exactly light the scoreboard up, in terms of humor.
Memorability – 5/10: To reiterate, other than the pool scene, Timmy lacks the memorability and big lines we’ve come to love from other characters in this film. Like most of the other players occupying the top half of this list, Timmy doesn’t have the sheer quantity of lines that we as viewers can pick from. This leaves him as one of the least memorable characters in this great movie (but he still doesn’t have the lowest score in this category).
Baseball Skill – 7.5/10: Everything Repeat does well, Timmy does better. Being the older brother, Timmy has speed like Repeat but possesses much more pop in his bat, as made evident by his AB against the snobby travel team. He’s also a much better infielder, making him one of the better players on the team; certainly above “league average.”
6. Kenny DeNunez: 30.5/50 (61%)
Likability – 7/10: Kenny DeNunez was one of the quieter Sandlot kids, which typically meant he wasn’t saying anything mean or nice. In this instance, it makes him one of the more well liked members of the team. There’s not a whole lot to say about Sandlot’s ace righty other than he kind of just follows the crowd. This doesn’t do him any favors in some of the other categories, but I also can’t remember him being that much of a jackass either, so kudos, Kenny.
Plot – 5/10: DeNunez’s claim to fame in the story comes at the very end, where we find out he went on to play Triple-A ball. That’s great for him, but it does nothing to advance the plot. KD is important to the success of the Sandlot team on the diamond but off it, he doesn’t contribute much, if anything. Five is as high as I can go here, for obvious reasons.
Humor – 5/10: Not a lot of speaking lines were granted to Kenny DeNunez, so his score is justly low. An exchange with Ham right before he hits a homer is the only really memorably funny moment DeNunez has in this film. His speaking lines are noticeably absent during some of the seminal scenes in the movie, namely the pool scene and any of the ball retrieval trials.
Memorability – 4.5/10: Other than the back and forth with Ham at the plate, is there really anything DeNunez does in this movie that is memorable? Sure, he completely shuts down the snotty travel team with his no-hit stuff on the mound, but everyone else contributed to the slaughter as well. Sorry to say it, but “The Heater” might be the least memorable character of the bunch, and that’s saying a lot when you share a team with Tommy Timmons.
Baseball Skills – 9/10: Ah, KD’s saving grace! While DeNunez lacks any sort of charisma needed to be a memorable character, he is second only to “god-in-human-form” Benny in terms of baseball skill. It was mentioned before that DeNunez goes on to play Triple-A ball, a feat not many kids playing backyard baseball will eventually claim. His heater is legendary, and his bat is quite live. Kenny DeNunez is the best player not named Benny, and that alone is rather impressive.
5. Alan “Yeah Yeah” McClennan: 35.5/50 (71%)
Likability – 6.5/10: Yeah Yeah is a tad snarky and a bit of a scoffer, initially leading the train on making fun of Smalls in the beginning of the film, but towards the end he actually becomes one of the more likable members of the crew. Consider this a tale of two halves for our hyper-active short stop; he really starts to grow on you by the end of the story. His constant ribbing of his teammates, typically Squints and his affection for Wendy Peffercorn, may seem grating but its actually rather endearing.
Plot – 6/10: Though not a complete throw away like the brothers Timmons or Bertram, Yeah Yeah doesn’t exactly bring it in this department either. He is an integral piece to the retrieval plans of the Babe Ruth baseball but when those efforts prove to be less than fruitful, Yeah Yeah (and basically everyone else but Benny, by extension) becomes expendable. This isn’t to say McClennan is a throw away, he just isn’t essential to the plot of the film.
Humor – 8.5/10: Let’s face it: Yeah Yeah is hysterical. He may seem like a bit of a one trick pony in the laughs department, but his schticks of being borderline ADHD and starting his sentences with “yeah, yeah” are actually quite humorous. His best scene is a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” shot of him after confronting the Beast, where he is screaming and intermittently babbling his lips like an insane person. Ah, comedy gold!
Memorability – 7/10: Because Yeah Yeah is so funny, he becomes one of the more memorable characters. Sure, his contributions to the plot are dubious at best, but he endears himself to us as an audience enough that he emerges as one of the more recognizable faces on the team. As far as secondary characters go, Yeah Yeah is one of the best and most memorable.
Baseball Skills – 7.5/10: A versatile fielder at shortstop, McClennan is talented in the hole, with both range and arm strength in his favor. He has quick foot speed which allows him to get to balls easily and I’d imagine he’s pretty good at getting those 6-4-3 double plays going. At the dish, Yeah Yeah doesn’t have plus power, but he is good at hitting for contact and his aforementioned foot speed makes him a danger to get on base as well as steal. All told, Yeah Yeah ranks in the upper half of players on an already stacked team.
4. Scott “Scotty” Smalls: 39.5/50 (79%)
Likability – 7/10: NERD! Just kidding (mostly). Smalls can come off as kind of whiny from time to time and he’s a bit of a geek, but come on he’s the main character! We HAVE to like him. The movie does a good job of using Smalls’ faults as ways to make him a more endearing character. He sucks at baseball early on because his dad died and his step-dad is too busy for him and he’s shy and doesn’t have a lot of friends as a result of this. It makes him a very sympathetic character, so we just can’t help but like him… For the most part.
Plot – 10/10: I’ll keep this short and sweet: without Scotty Smalls, there is no narrator. Without a narrator, there is no Sandlot. Yes, the Sandlot kids still play ball with each other every summer (albeit down a man), but we as an audience never get to hear the tales of that summer. We never hear the legend of the Beast, or of Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez. Anything less than a 10 in this category would be highway robbery.
Humor – 7.5/10: In every great comedy since man discovered fire and invented the wheel, there must be a straight man; a character who is the set up man and sometimes even the butt of the jokes. Smalls does this with masterful aplomb (whether he likes to or not remains to be seen). The Babe Ruth ball, The Great Bambino gaff, hell, even the most quoted line in the movie (“you’re killing me, Smalls”) all come at the expense of poor Scotty. I’ve never been very appreciative towards the comedic straight man, but in this instance I’ll make an exception.
Memorability – 8/10: Again, with this being an amalgamation of the first three scores, Smalls ranks relatively high in this category as well. He has many memorable lines and contributes to the plot immensely. He is also humorous in a straight man sort of way, as well as being rather likable in the lovable loser sense. His character arc is also super underrated, as he goes from shy introvert who is awful at baseball to adept outfielder with tons of new friends, all within a single summer.
Baseball Skills – 7/10: Speaking of which, if we ranked Smalls at the start of Sandlot, this score would undoubtedly be a fat 0. Thanks to a little practice and some coaching from Benny, however, Smalls turns into a rather capable baseball player on both sides of the ball. Defensively, he is an adequate outfielder with loads of upside, particularly in the arm strength department as made evident by his game of catch with Dennis Leary. At the plate, Smalls not only hits for contact but has hidden power, crushing the Babe Ruth ball to dead center, typically the deepest part of the field.
3. Michael “Squints” Palledorous: 41.5/50 (83%)
Likability – 7.5/10: For all the retorts and quips he hurls at his teammates, Squints is a really likable character. You can tell behind the pseudo-napoleon complex that he genuinely cares for the well-being of his friends. Squints may come off as kind of arrogant, but gosh darn it we just can’t help but like him!
Plot – 8/10: Squints is one of the most important characters in the film. Look at it this way, without Squints we would have no Wendy Peffercorn subplot, no Beast stories at the treehouse. Basically, a movie about baseball and nothing more. Remember, Squints is the one who dissuaded Smalls from just walking over to Mr. Mertle’s door and asking for the ball back. Without that seed of doubt being planted, the entire third act of the movie and the legend of Benny pickling the Beast both cease to exist. Squints is almost essential to Sandlot being the movie that it is, and we thank him.
Humor – 10/10: It can be argued that Squints is the single funniest character in the movie. He is tied with someone else on this list, but suffice to say, Squints has us laughing from beginning to end. There are so many quotes to choose from: “L7 weenie,” “For-ever,” “Been plannin’ it for years,” the list goes on and on. The crowning achievement and proverbial feather in the funny cap of Squints has to be his putting the moves on the lifeguard routine. It was surprising the first time we saw it and hasn’t stopped being funny for almost 25 years (feel old yet?).
Memorability – 9/10: Who could forget a character like Squints? With those Coke bottle glasses and that toothy grin, he’s physically memorable. However, he may be even more memorable for his back and forth with teenage fantasy Wendy Peffercorn, culminating in him tricking her into giving him mouth to mouth. Judging by her appearance alone, Peffercorn was easily 5 years older than our favorite bespectacled baseball player. The fact that he was not only able to kiss her but win her affection makes him easily the bravest character as well. Jumping a fence to win a ball back from a man eating beast? Please! Try even TALKING to an older woman. Way to go, Squints! You’re my hero.
Baseball Skills – 7/10: Squints is the steady Eddie of the Sandlot crew. He doesn’t have the power of Ham or Benny, nor does he have the speed or fielding acumen of Yeah Yeah, but Squints can more than hold his own on both sides. Offensively, he’s a contact hitter with adequate speed and in the field he can track down most balls with said horsepower. He’s a better player off the field, but he’s no slouch on it either.
2. Hamilton “Ham” “The Great Hambino” Porter: 43.5/50 (87%)
Likability – 8/10: It could be the pudgy build. It could be the freckles. It could be the fact that he’s a walking comedian. Whatever it is, Ham is an extremely likable guy. He has the same thing going for him as Squints: kind of a condescending a-hole at times, but still lovable. He might be even more likable than Squints, however, because of his “friendly” disposition behind the plate at catcher. Regardless of what makes Ham such a fun guy, there is almost no one we would rather spend our summers with as a kid.
Plot – 7.5/10: Ham isn’t quite as important as a Smalls or a Squints, but he has his moments. He’s mostly here for comedic relief but he does help in getting back the ball and he’s really key in some expositional moments. For example, his home run introduces Scotty Smalls to the Beast that lives on the other side of the fence. He even tangentially introduces Smalls to the legend of Babe Ruth, aka the Great Bambino. The movie could march on without him, but much like the hypothetical absence of Squints, we would be worse off without him.
Humor – 10/10: Take. Your. Pick. Ham is a comedy gold mine from start to finish. Who could forget the pool scene, where he introduces himself to a bunch of the “ladies” right before cannonballing and ruining their tanning spot? Or the scene where he goes toe to toe with the captain of the snobby travel team, culminating in the classic put-down of “you play ball like a girl” (a scene that would likely trigger even the average liberal arts student nowadays, which makes it even funnier). Ham even gives us one of the funniest and most quoted lines of the 90’s not from an episode of Seinfeld, “you’re killing me, Smalls.” Those four words have been such a part of the American vernacular that even people who haven’t seen the movie say them.
Memorability – 9.5/10: Ham has it all: the distinct look, the perfectly timed one-liners, and the quotes that entire generations have been regurgitating since ’93. He is easily the most memorable part of Sandlot, even more so than Benny. If you think that’s hyperbole, I’ll prove it. Think back to the last time you heard someone say that famous line of Ham’s. Great! Now try to remember anything Benny said. I rest my case.
Baseball Skills – 8.5/10: With Benny going on to play for the L.A. Dodgers and DeNunez making it as far as Triple-A, the metaphorical doorstep of the Major’s, it stands to reason that Ham is the third best baseball player on the team. His power, aside from Benny, knows no equal and he even homered off of the aforementioned DeNunez, meaning he got one over on someone who almost made it to the big leagues (quick side note: my cousin Jay once struck out Prince Fielder in a high school game. Pretty sweet, right?! Anyway, I digress). What may go under appreciated about Ham, however, is his defense at the catcher position. He was a force behind the plate on offense, but on defense, his constant chatter and perfect framing made it impossible for opposing hitters to get anything going.
1. Benjamin Franklin “The Jet” Rodriguez: 44.5/50 (89%)
Likability – 9/10: Was there ever any doubt? Of course not! Benny is not only by far the most likable guy because of how freaking cool he was, he was also insanely humble too. He was better than everyone he played against, and he knew it, but he was a team guy and a supportive friend. When Smalls showed up and had no idea what the hell he was doing, Benny didn’t give up on him. He took him under his wing and saw to it that Smalls would become the baseball player he knew he could be. There is something to be said for a grown man who puts others before himself, and it’s even more impressive that Benny had barely hit puberty. Wise beyond his years, they say.
Plot – 10/10: Again, much like Smalls, without Benny there is no Sandlot. Benny put the team together and was the last one to move away. He built the Sandlot team from nothing. Without The Jet, there is no story to tell. Smalls never has the courage to talk to the Sandlot kids, and the legend of pickling the Beast never happens. So many key events take place because of Benny; no Benny, no Sandlot. No heroes getting remembered, and no legends never dying.
Humor – 6/10: Every man has a weakness. This is a theory I have postulated many times when jealousy rears its ugly head over a potential competitor for the affections of a woman I fancy. Benny is no exception (not that we ever competed over the same woman, but the rules still apply). Sure he’s good looking and an exceptional athlete, but he doesn’t have the funny bones guys like Squints and Ham have. That must be why Wendy chose the former over the future MLB’er. Yeah, sure, that’s it…
Memorability – 9.5/10: Benny lacks the funny lines and physical comedy of Hamilton Porter, but he has the charm and charisma as well as the accolades to more than make up for this. Who could forget Benny pickling the Beast, showing no fear as he jumped that fence in his fresh pair of P.F. Flyers? Or how about when he knocked the stuffing out of that baseball, something “like only two or three guys in history” had done since? I still argue that Ham was the more memorable character, but as an ideology of bravery and courage, no one was better than Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.
Baseball Skills – 10/10: The dude played for the Dodgers. What more of an explanation do you want? Benny could play every position on the field as good or better than the people who actually held those positions on a daily basis. He was such a good hitter he could literally pick his spot to within inches, as he showed when he hit a popup right to the outstretched glove of Smalls in center field. He was even faster than a full grown dog. For crying out loud, Benny outran a dog! He may be the greatest fictional baseball player of all time, and if you disagree, be sure to let me know so I can ignore your terrible opinion (kidding).