Mike Vitar: What Happened To The Sandlot Star?

Mike Vitar played Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez in The Sandlot, and now is a firefighter in Los Angeles.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

mike vitar

Family and friends know Mike Vitar as the man who has devoted his life to his family and to being a firefighter. But to those who love to go for the nostalgia, Mike Vitar was the star of one of the most beloved films in recent times, The Sandlot, which also featured Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones. As Benny “the Jet” Rodriquez, Vitar had a promising acting career, but for some unknown reason, turned his back on it.


mike vitar

Mike Vitar was born on December 21, 1978, and before the “baseball” world came knocking on Mike Vitar’s door, he had completed a few earlier acting projects.

He was 12 years old when he started his career, having been discovered by a casting manager who had been out scouting for talent. Vitar was standing in line for a ride at his school carnival when the casting manager spotted him.


Mike Vitar’s first role was a small part as a young boy named Arturo in the 1991 feature film, Diplomatic Immunity. The film starred Bruce Boxleitner, who still was a name from playing Alan Bradley in the 1982 Disney film, Tron, a role that Boxleitner would reprise once again almost 30 years later in the 2010 Disney sequel, Tron: Legacy. Vitar also starred in an episode of Brooklyn Bridge in 1991.

It was nearly two years before Mike Vitar would get more work on a feature film. In 1993, he played a character simply called Boy in the film Sunset Grill. This one, though, would lead him to his best-known role as Benny The Jet.


mike vitar

Who out there has not seen The Sandlot? Okay, perhaps there are a few, so if you haven’t, you should go take a peek. The movie is set in 1962 and tells the story of Scott Smalls (Tom Guiry), a fifth grader who moves into a Los Angeles suburb with his mother (Karen Allen) and stepfather (Denis Leary).

To try to break Smalls of his shyness, his mother pretty much forces him outside to make friends with some of the neighborhood kids. Smalls ends up at the sandlot, where a bunch of boys are playing baseball. They are missing one, so to round out the numbers, they ask Smalls to play.

Unfortunately, Smalls (“You’re killing me, Smalls”) is not a baseball player. He lacks the ability to catch or even throw a ball, which only causes more embarrassment. The boys on the team ridicule Smalls, except for one – Benny the Jet Rodriguez (Mike Vitar), the one kid of them all who has natural talent and is considered by far the best in the whole area.

As time goes on, the boys at the sandlot begin to take a shine to Smalls, even though he can’t play to save his life. The team gets even closer when they are challenged by a hot-shot group of little leaguers who think they can just walk all over the sandlot boys. They find out early on that they can’t.

The Sandlot represents a time when life was simpler. Kids could go out all day long and not have to worry about the big bad world. Their issues involved female lifeguards (Hello, Wendy Peffercorn), a baseball autographed by The Great Bambino – George Herman Ruth, and a monster dog who chases Mike Vitar’s Benny throughout their small neighborhood.

There is a weird fact about The Sandlot that doesn’t involve Mike Vitar: The film’s distributor, 20th Century Fox, and the film’s producers were sued for defamation. In 1998, a gentleman named Michael Polydoros sued them, claiming that the character, Michael “Squints” Palledorous (played by Chauncey Leopardi), was derogatory, which caused him undue shame and humiliation. Apparently, Polydoros was a classmate of The Sandlot’s writer and director, David Mickey Evans.

The case went to trial, where the court found in favor of the filmmakers. It was then taken to the Supreme Court, which initially chose to review the case. Eventually, though, the Supreme Court changed its decision and dismissed the review.

Another fact about The Sandlot is more sad than anything. When Mike Vitar’s Benny is seen as an adult, he is playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The person who plays the grown-up Benny is Mike Vitar’s actual older brother, Pablo. What is sad is that Mike would lose his older brother to colon cancer in 2008.


mike vitar

The Sandlot was not the only big film Mike Vitar was involved in. After his time on the baseball diamond as Benny The Jet, Vitar changed sports. He went from the diamond to the ice rink when he joined Disney’s The Mighty Ducks franchise.

Mike Vitar was not in the original The Mighty Ducks, instead joining the franchise for 1994’s, D2: The Mighty Ducks as Luis Mendoza. It was a significant role and one that would see Vitar return to in 1996’s D3: The Mighty Ducks, again getting significant screen time.

Appearing in that third Mighty Ducks film would be the last time Mike Vitar would be seen on the big screen. He made his last television appearance in 1997 on an episode of Chicago Hope before deciding to walk away from Hollywood. He has never explained exactly why he decided to step away.

Mike Vitar did make one last trip to The Sandlot. This came in 2005 for the sequel, The Sandlot 2. Unfortunately, he was only seen in flashbacks.


There was no known specific reason why Mike Vitar stepped away, though one could surmise. In 2002, Vitar began his new career as a firefighter. He actually began even earlier, in 1996, when he began working for an ambulance company in Torrance, California.

His EMT position led him right to the Los Angeles Fire Department, where he has been ever since. He continues to live in Los Angeles with his wife, professional photographer Kym Allen, who he married in 2006. The couple has three children.

For the most part, Mike Vitar’s time as a firefighter, other than performing heroic acts, has been fairly pedestrian. That is until Halloween 2015. It turned into a very scary night for him.

That Halloween night, Mike Vitar was attending a Halloween party being thrown by one of his off-duty firefighting buddies. Apparently, there was a 22-year-old man walking around the neighborhood, handing candy to kids passing by him. Vitar and his group thought this young man was handing out drugs disguised as candy to the children.

They chased him down the street and jumped him, forced him to the ground, rendered him unconscious, and beat him pretty bad. It was so bad that they had to perform CPR until paramedics arrived. The man was hospitalized for weeks.

Mike Vitar and the two other accomplices were charged with felony assault. Vitar was allowed to change his plea to no contest to a much more reduced charge of misdemeanor battery. Because of this, Vitar was suspended from his job for six months without pay. Since that time, it has been the only blemish on what has become a very successful career for Mike Vitar.


Would Mike Vitar ever decide to return to acting? So far, the answer has been a polite “no.” Back in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Patrick Renna, who played Ham Porter in the original The Sandlot, got all the cast members back together for a virtual reunion. All cast members except for Mike Vitar.

Although Vitar turned Renna down (again), he says they are still good friends and keep in touch. He also said this, “Anytime we do something I’ll send him an email and ask him and he’s usually like, ‘No, I’m gonna step back on this one,’ but he’s always really cool about it.” The door, though, always seems to be open, even according to Vitar himself.

“I would like to meet anybody and everyone who has supported me even though I’ve been out of the acting business for ten years now. To all the fans I have nothing but love and great respect for all of you and who knows I might one day consider acting again. SO STAY TUNED!” These words were apparently written by Mike Vitar himself and posted to his Myspace page (yes, it’s still a thing).

If you were wondering, Mike Vitar is not on social media. His Myspace page is now non-existent and there is no confirmation that a Mike Vitar Instagram page is actually his or not, as it has only three pictures on it and pretty much nothing else. Take a look for yourself at this Instagram page and see what you think.


So then, what about the rumor (that apparently has been confirmed) about the new The Sandlot series that is in the works? According to the franchise’s original writer and director, David Mickey Evans, “I just sold a Sandlot television show. We’re about to get an order for the first two seasons,” he told The Rain Delay podcast in 2019.

While he couldn’t drop the name of who would be streaming the series, he did say, “I know who’s going to stream it. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out right now.”

Then, Evans said the words The Sandlot fans had been wanting to hear: “I already got all the original cast members back. It takes place in 1984, when they’re all, like, 33 years old and they all have children of their own, and that’s all I can tell you.” So, if he is talking about “all cast members” this would lead one to assume it would be including Mike Vitar.

Not much has been heard lately about The Sandlot television series since Evans made that announcement. So, we have no idea when the series will go into production, or even if it will, and since all is quiet in the Mike Vitar camp, we are unsure if he actually is part of it. Once we get more information, we will be sure to pass it along.