Patrick Renna played Hamilton Porter The Sandlot, the 1993 masterpiece has always been a good example for the best sports film focused on youth of all time. He recently drove a 45-minute special called The Sandlot cast meets for charity. Experienced detectives should be able to understand what it is. It debuts on You Killing Me With Patrick Renna, the actor’s YouTube channel on Wednesday and is hosted by Justin Turner.
Proceeds from the special will benefit the Justin Turner Foundation, which supports homeless veterans, children (and their families) fighting life-threatening diseases and diseases, as well as various youth baseball organizations. In addition to the old sandlot band, the current and former Major Leaguer are present, including Andre Ethier, Dee Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Enrique Hernandez.
Renna talked to The Big Lead about reconnecting to the cast, shared some behind-the-scenes stories of the shoot and reflecting on the film’s ever-changing legacy.
Kyle Koster: How did it all go together?
Patrick Renna: I have seen all these meetings going on. I saw them and thought it would be nice to deal with the boys. Since the 25th anniversary, we have had a group chat. We are more in touch than before. I texted them and they were involved.
Over the years I have got to know Justin Turner a little. He dressed like Hamilton Porter for Halloween, Ham Porter was his pseudonym in hotels on the street. I think I told all the media, however, so he can’t do it anymore. I ruined it for him. But it was worth it.
I contacted his team to see if he wanted to host him and he did. He has the Justin Turner Foundation. I learned this by going to one of his golf tournaments a few years ago. It is truly fantastic what they do by helping children and their families to overcome it.
I thought it would be a good way to get the kids back together and do it for a good cause.
KK: How close have you been over the years?
PR: Well, everyone jokes that they were all together after the movie, they never invited me. You can see how things are in friendship. They are still ham to this day, they won’t let me forget. The 20th anniversary brought some of us together and the 25th brought all of us together. It was great. We were the best friends during the shooting of the film and it’s something that the director took into consideration before launching any of us.
He took us to the set and made sure we got along. Once done, he would hire us. This was one of the reasons why it was so successful: our friendship on and off the screen. We have returned to that brotherhood for the past two years. It reminded me of why we got on very well. We struggle with each other just like brothers do.
KK: Okay, I’m not sure you’re prepared for what you’re getting in here. My son is in the other room spying on why The Sandlot it’s his favorite movie and i have a lot of questions about baseball. The first one goes to what you just grew up on and this is casting. What was your actual relationship with baseball at the time and the level of skill you had to show to be considered?
PR: You can watch my interview with Chauncey (Squints) on my YouTube channel and we will deepen it. Let’s talk about who was good and Chauncey calls the rest of their trash. Now, the rest of the kids are definitely offended. I don’t really think it was right.
But there were different degrees of talent when we started. Mike Vitar, who played Benny, was definitely the best. In fact, he could have played college ball. He continued to be a fireman but he could have had a great future. Brandon Adams (DeNunez) was quite good and I was a Little League player. I’m like Rudy, for my body type I like to think I’m pretty solid.
They also gave us a baseball coach for two weeks before we started filming. Many kids had a rigorous trial. A lot of callbacks and then they got together and met. Whether you look tough or not, there were young actors let go because they didn’t intertwine with the group and what the director was looking for. I think he was thinking it was going to be a three or four month trial, so people had to get along.
I was the boy’s last cast. My hearing process was completely different. I remember auditioning. Then I met the director. Then the next day they took me out to meet the rest of the boys. They said very specifically “you don’t have this job yet, we want to see how you interact.” I was older than everyone else at the time, so I made them get along with me.
Then we were taken to the baseball field for a few weeks to make sure everyone looked decent. We also had a baseball coach on set. Play Squints’ grandfather in the flashback. That boy was our real baseball coach.
I had never played catcher. It was an adaptation for me. It is a very different position from that of the infield or outfield.
KK: There are many reasons why the film is timeless. There is an element of Peter Pan. What is it like to have a version of you frozen in amber at that age? I mentally remember my time in Little League and I have my memories, but I know they are so distorted. You have yours in the movie.
PR: Yes, this is an interesting question. I never thought of it like this. When I think of that age between 13 and 18, it was only a handful of a lot of different films and I have been traveling for those five years. Looking back on those formative years, you’re right, it’s all there for me.
You see those memories on the screen but for me it is also behind the scenes. I take a look at the insult scene and you will see back and forth. But what I remember is that the scene was originally written for Benny. The director and the CEO came to me in my trailer that morning and they told me that they had changed it and that I had to learn the lines.
When I was talking to the guys on my channel they reminded me of the van rides at home and the arrival at the condominiums where we were staying. There was a swimming pool where we went around and played and we were just kids.
KK: I guess they are raising many things that you would have completely forgotten about.
PR: This was fantastic. It was a journey into memory. Obviously we have this meeting coming up on Wednesday, but before I started I did these little 10-15 minute interviews of the guys. It’s called Secrets of the Sandlot. It was a journey for me to listen to their views on the filming. I couldn’t remember everything. They triggered my memory a lot.
KK: How has your relationship with Major Leaguers been over the year? There have been multiple generations that have grown up watching The Sandlot. I feel like I see you on the pitch from time to time at Dodger Stadium …
PR: Not enough though. Let’s put our thorn in the dodgers. Not enough.
KK: Was there a time when people were in the major leagues that were bigger than you who loved the film?
PR: The strangest thing is to be older than them. It doesn’t matter their age … think of LeBron James. He is five years younger than me. This is crazy. If I ever meet him, I wouldn’t say “I’ve been taking you for five years”. These guys are bigger than life. They just are. It doesn’t matter which sport they practice.
Joc Pederson is in his early twenties, but I watch him crush home racing or play the World Series. For me, we are in awe of it. So when they go out and have this appreciation you didn’t know about, it’s crazy. Like Justin Turner. I have seen him for years as a redhead. My ginger brother. To tell me he used Ham Porter because his name is wild. On the same day, Matt Kemp came out of the pirogue and told us that we were one of the reasons he entered baseball.
KK: The story will prove you are the biggest Elswenger fan in the world. Can you give me a scouting report on this guy and where he is now?
PR: He could throw and he could catch unlike some people. Elswenger has continued to do great things. He’s still around, he has a family, he has a pot belly. He is what he is. It’s Elswenger.
KK: I guess in slow pace softball it can still get you a bomb or two.
PR: Yes, it crushes him.
KK: Go ahead and think about the weirdest thing anyone has ever said to you about the movie. I will try to complete it here.
PR: Uh Oh.
KK: A few years ago I did some math and found out that Benny was 44 years old during the last scene where he steals at home. It just doesn’t seem like the most viable strategy in a game of this magnitude.
PR: But it’s The Jet, buddy.
KK: How did I overlook it ?! There is probably a magical element there. I even think the announcer also alludes to this. Secondly, I went back and watched the game against the Tigers and tried to decide if Smalls’ foot came off the bag.
PR: Well, it’s a good thing that there wasn’t an instant replay in 1962. You’re a real fan.
KK: Some undiagnosed problems are probably at stake, but I’ll take it.
PR: You know, this guy on Instagram made a post in which he says Smalls plays with his stepfather, which means there was another baseball. I didn’t need to take Babe Ruth’s. Thanks for coming to my TED speech.
PR: I replied: “Scene canceled: I passed that ball and went into the courtyard with it”.
KK: A serious thing here that I should have asked earlier. You never get tired of talking The Sandlot?
PR: No I do not know. It means a lot to people. That’s why I became an actor. To become something that has a lasting impact and that’s what it did.
KK: What do you think the legacy of the film is in another 25 years, when it’s about to mark its 50th anniversary?
PR: Wow, I don’t know. I’m curious to see what the 30th and 35th anniversary will be like. It seems to resurface as one of those types of films.
KK: There has been an influx of nostalgia.
PR: Also, we miss the days when we didn’t get stuck on computer screens. This is what sandlot and those older movies represent. How, for me, it is to see children ride bicycles, get their knees dirty, be in the real world.
KK: Do you really like Babe Ruth?
PR: Well, I’m from Boston, so not like in the movie. Someone asked me who I wanted to play baseball with in history and I didn’t say Babe Ruth and I realized it later. I should have said that.
KK: Well there is Babe Ruth and the idea of Babe Ruth. It is a legend and a myth. Imagine how terrible it would be to read that, through advanced analysis, we discovered that he would now be just a .220 batter without power. This would remove the magic from it.
PR: It’s a myth and I can’t think of another sport that has one where the players of the past are mythical.
KK: I think that’s why it’s in the movie.
PR: And there it is.
KK: If you did it again, it would still be the boy, right?
PR: This is what I mean. Sure, Derek Jeter is fantastic but he wouldn’t be in the position. Either Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa or anyone else.