Art LaFleur, who played Cal Lankershim in The Sandlot and spent 30 years as a professional baseball player, has died at the age of 66, Variety reported.
LaFleur, a resident of Austin, Texas, played shortstop on the pitching staff for the Houston Astros between 1989 and 1995. He also played 11 seasons in the Cleveland Indians farm system, making it to Triple-A after he began his career.
LaFleur then spent his final 20 seasons as a part-time assistant coach for TMC Bushnell High School in Bushnell, N.J. where he coached the football team. He also worked as a scout for the Mets, the Twins, the Giants, the Braves, the A’s, the Rays, the Angels, the Rays again, the Marlins, the Padres, the Indians and the Dodgers. He was the San Diego Padres director of amateur scouting for two years.
On the field, LaFleur was both a standout in the minors and for the Houston Astros, who he played for until 1995.
In 2017, LaFleur spoke to The Boston Globe about his love of the game.
“Sports are an escape, a way to be away from everything,” LaFleur said. “After all this time when I’m home, I still find new meaning in baseball. I don’t have to worry about the kids, kids on their way to school. At times, I think, how long will that last? How many more years will this last?”
“So much of what I’ve done, I was raised on the word of sport,” he said. “The word was my best friend, my best protector, my best business partner. I still wonder about my worst friends. But I have something to offer.”
LaFleur also worked with The Sandlot — now a movie that stars and is based on a childhood baseball movie — on marketing. He offered a particularly revealing insight into baseball at that time.
“I’ve had a real easy time selling baseball,” he said. “Baseball to a guy like that. It’s the same reason you buy a car or just about anything. It’s the same thing with exercise. You know you should be doing it, but there’s nobody that gives you more motivation than yourself.”
After his career as a baseball player, LaFleur kept working in it, and admitted that the game was his favorite part of it. He also had kind words for baseball fans.
“People are not the kind of people that don’t have a memory or a spot in their brain that’s going to allow them to remember or relate,” he said. “Baseball has that kind of power in people’s memory. The only thing it can’t do, at least I can tell you, is be as good as that first call of a baseball.”
[The Washington Post]
Read the full story at Variety.
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