Baseball is an absurd game. And I think that’s why we love it.

I was reminded of this when I happened across The Sandlot as I was skimming through channels the other day. In an odd sort of bummer, I tuned in at the very end, just after the gang has finally defeated Hercules and Smalls and Benny have their meet and greet with James Earl Jones. Alas, I had missed out on all the fun stuff.

The good news is that I was in time for the money shot.

Now, a proper way to conclude the film would have involved Smalls being mercifully beaten by Dennis Leary for stealing his Babe Ruth ball – a warning to all kids who would dare to recreate Smalls’ tomfoolery. But no. Instead, we get a classically cathartic Hollywood ending. It turns out that Benny and Smalls have both found careers in baseball: Benny as a prolific pinch runner for the Dodgers, and Smalls as his ever-faithful broadcaster. The movie ends when Benny (“The Jet”) takes off from third and steals home just ahead of the tag, thus ending the game. The Dodgers win, and The Jet’s teammates carry him off the field amidst the commotion of a standing ovation. And then we see the grown-up Smalls grinning contentedly beneath the bill of his outrageous hat as he shares a thumbs up with his old friend.

Back in the day, I had to fight back the tears. But I’m older now, and all the nostalgia that was welling up inside my chest was not enough to keep me from scratching my beard. I got a real curious feeling. I understood why the filmmaker’s chose to have a straight steal of home serve as the climax for their film. It is, after all, the most exciting play in sports.

But a straight steal of home to win the game? Has that ever even happened before?

Click “Start Slideshow” to find out about that, and many other stealing home tidbits.

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