’The Sandlot’ cast on why this coming-of-age film became a classic
The "The Sandlot" came out in 1993, and people are still calling Patrick Renna “The Great Hambino.”
Renna and co-stars Chancey Leopardi (‘Squints’) and Tom Guiry (‘Smalls’) were just a bunch of kids in the early 1990s when they were cast to be part of a coming of age film, set in the 1950s, about a group of neighborhood kids who love to play baseball.
They went to two weeks of baseball camp and then spent the rest of the summer making a movie whose best line, “You’re killing me, Smalls,” (a line Renna says twice in the film) has become part of American pop culture parlance.
The movie was a modest success when it came out, but in the past 26 years, it has become a cult classic, inspiring legions of fans, many of whom are now sharing it with their own children.
The trio were in Austin over the weekend for an Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow presentation at Treaty Oak Distillery, where fans shows up in costumes, with baseball gloves and ready to spout their favorite catchphrases.
Listen to Chancey Leopardi (Squints) and Patrick Renna (Ham) share memories of making “The Sandlot” and what they love about the film today:
Like many of the fans in attendance, Christina Lee Shane was a kid when the movie came out and played catcher on her local softball team. “(The actors) are the same age as me, so when that movie came out, that was my childhood,” she says. “Coming here is like a childhood reunion. I don't know them now, but it’s like I knew them then, so there’s a bond.”
The way Renna remembers it, they were mostly a bunch of kids having fun.
Fans share their memories of “The Sandlot”:
“It was four months in the sweltering heat with your best buds,” Renna said before the screening on Sunday.
Leopardi, who plays the geeky, glasses-wearing Squints in the movie, says he sees a confident kid when he looks back at images from the time. “I think, ‘I wish I was half as confident as I was in that picture’.”
“You don't know any better when you're a kid...then life humbles you,” Renna adds.
The two actors have done three films together, including another kid sports movie, “The Big Green,” which was filmed in Austin in 1994.
“The fact that it’s a period piece already...and it’s stuck in time a little bit, that has a big part of (why people love it),” Renna says, but it’s the good-natured friendships that form on screen that makes the movie a classic. “The subplot of inclusion really resonates with people. Friendship is timeless. Especially these days, the world needs a bit more of that.”
“That’s what good about the flick,” Leopardi says. “(Viewers) can relate to something, maybe if you’re a little bit different, you get to be part of the game.”