Self-proclaimed 90s kids, this one’s for you.
If you haven’t seen The Sandlot, go watch the 1993 coming-of-age story about making friends, playing baseball, vomiting on everyone, and committing sexual assault. You’re gonna need prior knowledge of this childhood classic to appreciate the true insanity of 2007’s direct-to-video piece of wonderment, The Sandlot: Heading Home.
Here we go…
Now that you’ve seen The Sandlot (and know the difference between the Great Bambino and the Great Bambi, that wimpy deer), you’re probably thinking, “that was a nice film. I can see why audiences everywhere latched onto it. There’s a sequel? Please, tell me more.”
Yes, The Sandlot has a sequel. It’s called The Sandlot 2. It was released direct-to-DVD in 2005, and it’s every bit the cash-in attempt you’d expect. Some new kids play baseball at the sandlot, and a girl joins their team, and Ladybugs and Bad News Bears, and it’s a home run of family fun. Now we need to address the third film, Heading Home.
The first film took place in the ’60s, which lent the movie a lot of charm. The second film took place in 1972, because that is also a year when children played baseball. Heading Home takes place in 1976, except the film isn’t a simple period piece. Our main character Tommy Santorelli starts as Major League Baseball player in 2007. Then a wild pitch knocks him unconscious, and he wakes up to find that his consciousness has time-traveled back into his childhood self. This Sandlot movie is about time travel, because why wouldn’t it be?
The movie begins in 2007, with an ESPN-style recap of Tommy’s life. He’s a fantastic player, but he’s got a big ego and a dead mother. About two minutes in, we’re treated to an interview with Tommy’s manager… Benny Rodriguez?
Yes, that’s Danny Nucci, reprising his role from the original film 14 years later. [Editor’s Note: We were wrong about this being the same actor, but don’t let this affect you enjoyment of the article!] How did this happen, and how was it not widely publicized? The Sandlot shows up on BuzzFeed-style “90s Kids Will Look at this List and Remember Their Childhood and Feel Old and Alone” articles every day. Where were the articles noting Nucci’s return? He’s not even on the cover!
Well, fine. Benny Rodriguez is here, and he’s old. He gets one scene before a bunch of nonsense happens and Tommy’s brain is concussed back to the ’70s, where he can revisit his shitty childhood friends and learn a lesson about humility or something.
The next thirty minutes are unremarkable. Tommy hangs out with his childhood friends and dead mom, and they play baseball. Whatever, you’re not here to learn about his personal journey. You’re here to find out if any more bizarre cameos will occur.
You’re in luck, because at around 40 minutes in, Lil’ Tommy shows up at the sandlot to find (what the fuck?) adult Benny Rodriguez — not the 2007 model, but a slightly younger Benny, during his days as an MLB player — playing baseball with the other kids.
Tommy is like, “Benny, what the fuck?” and Benny gives him some vague answer about growing up or something. He seems to be aware that Tommy is here from the future because [reason]. Is slightly younger Benny only here because of time-traveling Tommy, or was playing baseball with unfamiliar children in his old sandlot something he actually did in the 70s?
Weirded out, Tommy sits on the bench and watches this temporal nonsense. Then Squints from the first movie shows up because what is going on.
Tommy identifies Squints as a famous sports commissioner in 2007, though there is a shout-out to him owning and operating Vincent’s Drugstore (his described fate in the original film’s epilogue). The two have a chat about the future, in which Squints describes the personalities and quirks of Tommy’s own friends to him. Unlike Benny, Squints doesn’t seem to know Tommy at all; he regards him as just some kid, and doesn’t even allude to time travel. Is this Squints from 2007, or is this Squints from the 70s? Did he spend that decade awkwardly watching his old friend Benny play baseball with children? Why is he here? Why is he in this movie?
This scene goes on for like 10 more minutes, and then they play baseball and continue to provide no concrete explanation on how the original characters fit into this narrative. Then one of those dickhead land developer villains like from The Goonies shows up with plans to destroy the sandlot (little did he know that Hollywood’s quest for a quick buck would accomplish this goal for him).
The kids sneak into a showing of Young Frankenstein and drink milkshakes and battle the rival team of douchebags and ride bikes and learn about growing up, the whole nine innings. There’s a weird bit where the kids find out that Benny has hurt his leg in a major league game, but they just kind of acknowledge that and keep going with other plots.
A town meeting is held to decide the sandlot’s fate. Squints pops up again to give a rousing speech, and there is absolutely nothing stranger for a kid of the 90s than a middle-aged Squints rallying the townsfolk against a land developer while still wearing a backwards ball cap. It’s like if Jurassic World had featured a subplot about a decrepit John Hammond begging investors to support the new park while holding onto a portable oxygen machine.
Anyone else seeing Steve Carell here?
Benny shows up once more — on crutches — to train the team for their big game. Squints makes them team uniforms covered in pictures of his face. The kids win (against a team run by the land developer?), and Tommy’s wandering consciousness is banished back to 2007 for some reason. He wakes up in the hospital as a better person, and is visited by Old Benny and the frightening spirits of his childhood friends. The end.
But we do get one last scene where slightly younger Benny and Squints reminisce about their childhood, and that’s pretty cute.
Off screen, Danny was still jealous of Chauncey’s role on Gilmore Girls.
So what’s up with this movie? It’s a Sandlot sequel about time travel with extensive but totally baffling (and sort of depressing) cameos by Benny and Squints, and no one seems to know that it exists. On its own merits, Heading Home is just a passable kids’ baseball flick; the cameo scenes, however, are something any Sandlot fan needs to check out/be baffled by.
Just watch out for fly balls, or you might get sent back to 1993, where you’ll be forced to watch The Sandlot on VHS with a bunch of creepy adults who are hanging out with you and your childhood friends for reasons unknown.