Super Bowl Sandlot
In the history of the sport, none of the boys I grew up with turned out to be a professional athlete, but there were two memorable occasions when the players on my team distinguished themselves in what became known as the Super Bowl victories of football games. sandlot football. Our training camp was a grueling exercise in ball handling that we called “kicking back.” When we didn’t have enough players to make two teams, we devised an alternate method of practicing strength building.
A throwback game formed with one person standing alone, holding a soccer ball, with their back to the rest of the group. The player threw the ball into the air and back towards the rest of the group. Whoever caught the backward pass had to carry the ball as far as they could, until the rest of the crowd tackled it or until it reached a designated goal. Once tackled, the carrier became the next person to return the ball to the pool of potential ball carriers.
Our training paid off in the first big game when my elementary school age team was paired with a high school football quarterback, against a team of other high school age kids. When the game started, our opponents threw my team down and knocked it aside quite easily. All we could hope for was to jump on the older players’ legs, grab their ankles and try to slow them down. After several hard plays, we huddled together and came up with a new strategy. Since the opposing team was much taller than us, we decided to try a different tactic. The idea was to wait for them to break the ball, then one of us would turn around backwards, place his foot in the hands of another player and launch himself up and out towards the opponent.
The “special” move worked the first time we played it. My teammate was perfectly thrown at the opposite ball carrier, and his head hit the other boy square in the face, sending him staggering to the ground with a bloody nose. There was a stunned silence as the team of high school boys tended to the wounds of their fallen comrade. They were so shocked to see one of their own shot down by the headstrong elementary school gamer; they decided to end the game. Despite the odds, we had won our first Sandlot Super Bowl.
In later years, during our high school days, the second Super Bowl of sandlot games was played. As rival teams fought on the field, some of the players who were injured left the game and went home. The father of the injured appeared on the field to admonish the teams for playing too hard.
“Let’s see how you do with someone your size,” Dad said as he squared off to join the next fight against us.
When they broke the ball, my brother lunged at Dad and hit him head-on in the stomach. Dad fell in a heap. When the play was over and Dad got his breath back, he withdrew from the game and awarded our team victory. Years later, at a high school reunion, I ran into one of the guys who had played for the other team. He recognized my name and asked me if I was one of the same boys who had played in the sandlot game where we had taken out a highway patrol. His memory of the game and his recognition confirmed our status of winning the second Sandlot Super Bowl.