Art LaFleur, The Sandlot and Field of Dreams Star, Dies at 78

Art LaFleur, known for his roles in The Sandlot and Field of Dreams, passed away on Wednesday, November 17th at the age of 78. The prolific actor died after battling Parkinson's disease for 10 years. His wife Shelley told TMZ that LaFleur passed away at home with his family by his side, cracking jokes all the way till the end to lighten the mood. LaFleur's wife remembers her husband as a "generous and selfless man," which were qualities present during his acting career, though she stressed "but more importantly it was who he was for his family and friends."

One his LaFleur's most prominent roles was as Babe Ruth in 1993's The Sandlot, where he showed up as a ghost to give a pep talk to Benny. The young baseball players lost an autographed baseball by Ruth after knocking it into another home's lot, and were too afraid to retrieve it since there was a terrifying dog patroling the yard. LaFleur's Sultan of Swat walked out of Benny's closet with a New York Yankees jersey on and a cigar in his mouth. "Remember kid... there's heroes, and then there's legends," is one of LeFleur's memorable quotes to Benny.

He also starred in another baseball film, Field of Dreams, in 1989. LaFleur played Chick Gandil of the Chicago White Sox, who took part in the team's Black Sox scandal. Coincidentally, he also appeared as a ghost similar to The Sandlot. Some of LaFleur's more recent roles came in 2002's The Santa Clause 2, 2006's The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, 2008's Speed Racer, and an episode of Malcolm in the Middle in 2005.

"I get recognized for this film more than any other. It's the best one-day job I've ever had," LaFleur said about his Sandlot gig while a guest speaker at The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles campus in January 2018. He credited his face for helping him break into Hollywood. "There were people in my acting class who were really good. They were wonderful, but they wouldn't get arrested, whereas I have this mug. I don't know. I just have this face," he said.

LaFleur's advice for the audience before the Q&A session concluded was, "If you are lucky enough to be cast in a film or on a television series the most important thing is to be sharp. Be on your game with the dialogue and everything else. And if they don't talk to you, you're doing fine."