Well, would you?
Massive spoilers ensue, but this movie is 25 years old. No excuses.
Sandlot is an American cinematic staple. Who can forget our gang of baseball-loving adolescent misfits? From Smalls’ quest for acceptance to Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez’ continued athletic dominance to Ham’s unforgettable one-liners, the Sandlot crew has embedded itself in our country’s national conscience for good reason. And it’s not just the crew. The setting is timeless: a perfect 1960s suburban playground with multiple Little League teams and good weather. It’s a dream neighborhood for a small family looking to buy a home. But would it be smart to buy the same property in today’s market, with the Beast still roaming in the backyard? We’re about to find out.
Let’s talk about the property itself. We’ll assume that the house in question is still owned by Mr. Mertle, a junkyard owner and former Negro League baseball player. Let’s presume his credit is still in good standing. The house itself has a major fixer-upper vibe to it, especially in regards to the back fence after the events of the film. Safe to say, in its film state, the exterior is not the ideal landscape for a small family. Your Realtor will probably take this time to explain to you the value of “rustic,” and suggest that you contact the area’s landscaping experts.
The interior, however, seems adequate. Agents will stress the unique lighting, and ample opportunity to showcase personal hardware like certain baseball memorabilia. On your first visit, you may be apprehensive of booby traps — don’t be. The neighborhood kids keep spreading that rumor around, even today. The interior has seen better days, but it’s completely reasonable to suggest that the foundations haven’t cracked since Smalls gave up that fateful Babe Ruth ball. Still, potential buyers should not forget that this investment will come with the unforeseen costs of outside renovation. (That extends inside, too. Mr. Mertle’s paneling style needed an update 25 years ago.)
The film never states exactly what town the events take place in, so we’re going to assume it’s in the Glendale neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah, where it was filmed. The approximate location of the lot itself is 1388 Glenrose Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. This narrows our search considerably. According to Realtor.com, one 3 bedroom single-family property on Glenrose Drive is currently on the market for $120,000. As of this post, other available properties range from a nearby town home valued at $247,800 to a single-family home with an expansive front yard at $86,900. Let’s peg this home on the lower end of that spectrum, and put it at a flat $100,000. That’s not the best, but it’s certainly not the worst. With a backyard that size, you could be reaping rewards sooner than later.
Note that the property is near a shopping mall, and great public schools. Finding value in the local community will be key, especially since you’ll have to deal with the kid-eating fury of the Beast very shortly.
Now it might seem that “The Beast” is just a tragically misunderstood English Mastiff. You may have heard your agent pitch the property as pet-friendly. Few would blanch at the prospect of a backyard large enough to accommodate all of those forgotten baseballs. At the point of first contact, however, you’ll quickly realize that The Beast is actually a near-mythical savage demon-spawn. Words cannot substitute for actual near-death experience. When you venture into the yard for the first time, attempt to keep The Beast distracted by tossing a few baseballs around in different directions. Feel free to comment on the paint job near the back windows while you fervently placate the gaping maw of the furry deathtrap inches from your toes.
It’s a walkable neighborhood, and the shopping mall a mere two blocks away is sure to have enough gardening equipment to keep The Beast away while you train it to learn that you are Mr. Mertle’s long-lost family, and deserve safe passage.
But, much like the Sandlot boys, you too will soon learn that The Beast is really just a lovable Mastiff after all, and that honesty and good sportsmanship trump all. Not to mention, with a dog that size, you’ll be sure to never have pesky raccoons — a real deal breaker for families with small children in the backyard.
To summarize: yes, The Beast deserves respect and safety measures while you accommodate to its habits. But the property itself is an opportunity to buy low and fix up as you watch your family grow. It’s in a nice area, dependably great weather, and well worth the risk.
And of course, there’s sure to be plenty of local youth sports leagues.