The revolution will not be televised, except for, well, maybe on YouTube or Twitch. But either way, there is a revolution happening–call it a Sandlot Revolution. People are getting out of their houses and taking the game of baseball back. Dusty, overgrown fields are returning to their native form: the baseball field. Suited-up, stuffed shirts are being kicked to the curb and people are playing baseball because it is a fun game and not a faceless, money-making machine.
You Say You Want a Revolution
Revolutions have been occurring throughout human history in many different forms. Most revolutions, especially political ones, tend to be violent. But one thing that all revolutions have in common is that they generate change. Whether or not that change is a lasting one is another story. So far the Sandlot Revolution has lasted, and not only that, it has grown. But where did this form of peaceful change begin? Who, or what, or where is responsible for this radical revolt?
The Long Time
Let’s start with a city. Austin, Texas is like no other. It is known for its great live music, thriving art community, and undying thirst for alcohol. It is also known as the birthplace of the Sandlot Revolution. And it all started with one man, Jack Sanders. Sanders decided, with a few of his buddies, to build a baseball field in his backyard. So they did. Then they needed a team to play there, so they founded the Texas Playboys Baseball Club. They played ball, drank beer (and other beverages of varying natures), listened to music, and had a good time. Jack’s baseball field and land, known as “The Long Time” became the center of a revolution they didn’t even know they were starting.
Word got out that something good–something real–was happening at Jack’s place and more and more people started to show up. The vibe spread through Austin and in its wake were sandlot baseball teams looking for a place to play, and they knew just where to go: The Long Time.
The revolution had begun.
Where We Are Now
That was back in 2006. Now, fifteen years later, the revolution has spread, and not just nationally, but globally. Austin is still the hub with various teams such as the Playboys, the Switch, the Cap City Cobras, the Senators, and the South Austin Parakeets, to name a few. But there are also the Oakland Beers, the San Jose Prune Pickers, and the Los Angeles Baseball Federation on the west coast. And if you head east you will run into sandlot powerhouses including the Tulsa Rumbles, the Raleigh Reapers, the West Philly Waste, and the Nashville Dollys. And that is just a minute handful of teams in the U.S.
Outside of the states, there is a strong sandlot community in Vancouver, which includes the Chinatown Cobras, the Little Mountain Blasters, and the Mt. Pleasant Murder. Across the pond, there are more teams including the Dublin Fibbers and the London Orioles. Seemingly daily, there are new teams cropping up all over the place, so many that they are hard to wrangle. But, luckily for the Sandlot Revolution junky, there is a place that is trying to keep track of the burgeoning movement. And what is this place called? The Sandlot Revolution of course.
What’s the Big Idea
The number one goal is to have fun. The sandlot experience is not so much about competition as it is about the experience. It really doesn’t matter who wins or loses, it matters that all, fan and ballplayer alike, have a good time. Some teams have full-blown games with umpires and fans. Others play scrimmages against themselves because there isn’t another team close enough, while other teams just have batting practice, play catch and pepper because they can’t field a full team.
And while Major League Baseball languishes away with PR problems consistently damaging the game, the Sandlot Revolution continues to make baseball our national pastime again. It might not be MLB that saves the game. What it could be is a return to the past. To local teams playing for their community. It could be the revolution that saves the game of baseball, the Sandlot Revolution. And yes, it will be televised, but not by a major corporation with money on their mind, but by your friend sitting next to you, enjoying the ballgame and documenting it with their smartphone for no reason but the love of the game and the love of life.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images