Art LaFleur, who played Babe Ruth in The Sandlot, is dead at 78

Art LaFleur, who played Babe Ruth in The Sandlot, is dead at 78

Art LaFleur, who was best known for playing the spirit of baseball legend Babe Ruth in the family-friendly comedy The Sandlot, has died at age 78.

LaFleur’s wife Shelley LaFleur announced his death on Thursday in a Facebook post in which she said he had died from ‘A-typical Parkinson’s.’

The actor, who battled the disease for a decade, also had significant roles in Field Of Dreams and classic television shows including M.A.S.H. and The Incredible Hulk.

Television fixture: Art LaFleur’s death at 78 was confirmed Thursday by his widow Shelley. She wrote that the actor died after a 10-year-battle with ‘A-typical Parkinson’s’; seen in 2002 in Hollywood

LaFleur had a long list of television credits, with appearances on The A-Team, Baywatch, Coach, Doogie Howser, ER, Hill Street Blues, Home Improvement, House, JAG, Northern Exposure, Malcolm in the Middle, The Mentalist and Thirtysomething.

In The Sandlot, he played a dream version of Babe Ruth who inspired a young baseball fan.

‘Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s Legends. Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die!’ he says during a pep talk from beyond the grave. 

The actor also appeared in another baseball-themed movie, the Kevin Costner–starring drama Field Of Dreams, as Chick Gandil, one of the leaders of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. 

Playing an icon: LaFleur was best known for playing Babe Ruth in the 1993 family-friendly baseball comedy The Sandlot

Film and TV star:  The actor also appeared in another baseball-themed movie, the Kevin Costner–starring Field Of Dreams, as Chick Gandil; pictured in The Sandlot

LaFleur was born in Gary, Indiana, in 1943, and he went on to play football at the University of Kentucky in the early 1960s.

It wasn’t until the late 1970s that he got his start in the film and television industry as an actor, after initially moving to Hollywood to become a screenwriter.

His first on-screen credit was for the 1978 TV movie Rescue From Gilligan’s Island, and he followed that up with guest appearances on Charlie’s Angels, Lou Grant and M.A.S.H. 

His other high-profile film roles were in the cult-classic horror remake of The Blob from 1988 and the Sylvester Stallone police thriller Cobra from 1986.

Late start: His first on-screen credit was for the 1978 TV movie Rescue From Gilligan’s Island, and he followed that up with guest appearances on Charlie’s Angels, Lou Grant and M.A.S.H.; LaFleur (top right) seen with some of the cat of The Sandlot in 2013

In 2011, the Action on Film International Film Festival honored LaFleur for his role in the film Dahmer vs. Gacy. 

In her Facebook statement, LaFleur’s widow referred to him as ‘the love of my life.’ 

‘He brought laughter to so many people,’ she continued as she listed some of his most popular film roles. ‘He was a generous and selfless man which carried over to his acting but more importantly it was who he was for his family and friends. 

‘Every location or set we visited him on, the cast and crew would introduce themselves and tell [his children] Molly, Joe, and me how Art spoke of us with such pride and love,’ she continued, adding that they had been together for 43 years. 

Gift of laughter: In her Facebook statement, LaFleur’s widow referred to him as ‘the love of my life.’ ‘He brought laughter to so many people,’ she wrote; LaFleur (center) with Tim Allen (L) and Ron Taylor (R) on Home Improvement in 1991

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