DALLAS — At some point, pretty much every kid who plays baseball comes to the same realization: that their dream is dead.
Unless you’re a big leaguer, there aren’t many options for playing the game beyond childhood.
At least, there weren’t, until Patty Evans faced a crisis.
A couple years ago, after losing both his grandpa and his best friend, Evans was struck with a revelation.
“I could die tomorrow and I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do,” he said.
Afraid of living with regret, Evans decided to try and cross off the biggest thing on his bucket list: baseball.
Evans always loved the game, but never got to play as a kid. At the age of 46, he was determined to find others who felt the same way.
“Social media doesn’t work when they don’t know you exist,” he said. “Just got to put it in their face.”
He put up signs all over Dallas inviting anyone who wanted to play to meet at Lake Cliff Park.
And they did.
Pretty much every weekend for the past year, people have been showing up to play.
“No better way to spend a Saturday morning,” said Hunter Moehring.
They call it "Oak Cliff Sandlot."
Sandlot baseball has become popular in recent years thanks to a place called The Long Time in Austin.
Evans, who managed a competitive baseball team in Dallas, visited The Long Time and decided then and there he needed to bring sandlot baseball to Dallas.
Just like the movie, “The Sandlot," they play for fun.
“This is the way you’re supposed to play baseball,” said Evans.
“It’s a lot of fun honestly,” said Josh Lowe.
For some, it wasn’t always that way.
“Whether it was a coach or a dad or a mom, at some point somebody made baseball un-fun,” said Moehring.
That’s not a concern for these sandlot players.
Evans' team, the Oak Cliff 86ers, named for the year Oak Cliff was founded, is a rag tag group of guys. Some have played before and some haven’t.
“Most of us stopped playing in Little League,” said catcher Jonathan Braddick. “This was my first love, for sure.”
Ever since Evans started the 86ers last year, at least five teams have formed in Dallas-Fort Worth.
They keep score, but no one is really worried about the outcome.
Every Saturday, when the weather’s good, Evans and his crew show up to the park to play.
New players are always welcomed and they don’t have to have experience.
“Oh, absolutely not,” Evans said. “I prefer that they don’t. Cause then if they do hit the ball or they throw it and someone catches it, that’s a win.”
It’s what sandlot is all about: trying to recapture what baseball was meant to be and what baseball once was for each of them.
“It’s a game,” Moehring said. “It’s supposed to be fun.”
“Feels honestly like you’re just playing at the park with your friends,” said Alex Mireles.
It’s not Little League, but they’re clearly kids at heart, which, they say, should be the goal for everyone.
“Too much time we focus on professional sports and, ‘oh I aged out of doing the thing I loved as a kid,’” Moehring said. “It doesn’t have to be that way.”
No matter your age, they say, you shouldn’t have to give up doing what you love.
As long as you have a dream, you just need to believe in it and bring it home.
For more information on the Oak Cliff 86ers, visit https://www.oakcliffsandlot.com/86ers.