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Here's Why 20th Century Fox Was Sued Over The Sandlot

As far as cinematic genres go, few are as hit or miss as the coming of age film, with even the most gifted of filmmakers often daunted by the task of finding the right mix of unflinching honesty, timeless (or timely) themes, and unapologetically nostalgic sap. Get that mix right, you might deliver a genre classic like Stand By Me (1986), Dazed and Confused (1993), or Lady Bird (2017). Screw it up, and you get any of the dozens of shamefully melodramatic nostalgia trips that have come and gone over the years.

Occasionally, a film comes along that gets the mix so right it transcends the genre altogether, and it's safe to say David Mickey Evans' heartfelt baseball dramedy The Sandlot is just such a movie. Released in April 1993, the film is set in the summer of 1962, and follows the travails of an awkward new kid in town (Tom Guiry) as he tries to make friends with the neighborhood outcasts by joining their regular pickup game in the titular dusty backlot.

Vividly realized, remarkably insightful, laugh-out-loud funny, and just sappy enough to soften even the hardest of hearts, The Sandlot quickly became a hit with viewers of every age when it debuted. And the years since have only seen the film's esteem grow, with fans hailing it as both an insanely quotable coming of age classic, and a pitch-perfect baseball film to boot. 

It seems not everybody was so enamored with The Sandlot when it hit theaters, though. And one of the people who clearly served as inspiration for the story was so upset by what he saw, in fact, that he actually took his complaint to a federal judge. Here's why.

The real life "Squints" apparently had issues with his depiction in The Sandlot

You may not know it, but The Sandlot was not so loosely based on events from the life of its director and co-writer David Mickey Evans. As it happens, when the film made its way to theaters, one of Evans' school chums was surprised to be seeing what he perceived as a version of himself in the film. More accurately, he saw a version of himself he didn't much care for. 

The character in question is The Sandlot's lovably bespectacled Michael "Squints" Palledorous (Chauncey Leopardi), who was indeed based on Evans' old buddy Michael Polydoros. And yes, when the film was released, the also bespectacled Mr. Polydoros saw too many similarities between the character and his 10-year-old self. Perhaps even more problematic was that Polydoros really didn't like how he was represented, with his likeness being the butt of many a joke in the film, on top of boasting an embarrassing nickname. 

As reported by Variety, Polydoros was so upset about his perceived depiction in The Sandlot he filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox Studios over it in 1994, claiming "invasion of privacy through misrepresentation of his name and likeness." 

Polydoros had a solid case, too, even reportedly producing a photograph of himself from the era that the judge claimed was similar to "Squints," "right down to appellant's [thick rimmed] eyeglasses and the color and design of his shirt." Fortunately for Evans and his 20th Century Fox bosses, that same judge failed to see any further likeness between the real "Squints" and his onscreen counterpart outside of name and appearance, summarily dismissing the suit three years after Polydoros filed it. Even still, that suit remains an unsightly blemish on The Sandlot's otherwise unimpeachable legacy.