On April 7, 1993, a movie about a bunch of kids from the same neighborhood playing baseball together hit theaters. It was called, "The Sandlot," and it ended up being a classic that will be remembered ... forever.
In honor of one of the best baseball movies of all-time, a true classic, Major League Baseball has several promotions running this season. Let's run through it all right here in a big-time Sandlot blowout. Make sure to stick around for the conclusion of the Q&A. The guys were hilarious and they snuck into a movie they definitely didn't need to have seen at their age!
Our Q&A session with the cast and writer/director
I had the pleasure of speaking with the cast and director/writer/voice-over Mickey David Evans this past week. Pleasure is an understatement, too. They were awesome. Much of the fun was hearing them laugh with each other and some of the back-and-forths through the discussion and laughter that can't really fully translate into words here. Still, this is a great question-and-answer session with some nuggets that every Sandlot fan will love.
Matt Snyder: For director Evans, when you first wrote this script, did you have any idea how special this was going to turn out?
Mickey David Evans: No. I write for myself. I was having a good time. I thought it was funny. I was laughing and feeling anxious or whatever emotion you're supposed to be feeling in whatever particular scene, but when we got done, I knew it worked. I knew it was a story well told, but anything other than that, no, there's really no way to know that.
Snyder: So someone at the time says, 'hey, 25 years later, this is going to be a phenomenon,' you're going, 'what? Really?'
Evans: Yeah. It's a combination of surreal, intense gratitude, a certain amount of artistic satisfaction, obviously, and mind-boggling.
Snyder: For the cast, what was your favorite part of the film to shoot?
EVERYONE: CHAUNCEY! [That's "Squints"]
Chauncey Leopardi (Michael "Squints" Palledorous): Kissing Marley Shelton (scene here) was probably my favorite part of shooting the film as an actor, purely from an artistic standpoint. I feel like I showed a lot of range there.
Patrick Renna (Hamilton "Ham" Porter): I think the best part of shooting the movie was Chauncey kissing Marlee (big laughter). We got to live vicariously through him and it was awesome.
Victor DiMattia (Timmy Timmons): My big scene was when I came out of the tree house with dirt all over me, but that wasn't super-fun to shoot. I think the funnest part of all the stuff was just when we were hanging out. Running around in the chase scene was really fun. Just the times that all of us were together just hanging was fun.
Tom Guiry (Scotty Smalls): I think my favorite was the part in the tree house where Squints tells the story of the beast. It's probably my favorite scene in the movie.
Snyder: It haunts you FOREVER.
Guiry (Smalls): I wake up in cold sweats to this day.
Snyder: Now that you're an adult and can look back, what parts do you love to watch?
Shane Obedzinski (Tommy "Repeat" Timmons): I like to watch the background when we're actually playing baseball. Some of those were wide shots and we were just ... there. When the attention wasn't on us, it was fun to look back on the fun things that happened that weren't part of the main part of that particular scene. That's what's enjoyable for me.
[Several people start talking up Shane for a great answer]
Marty York (Alan "Yeah Yeah" McClennan): My favorite part was all the improvisation that we did on set. Where we said 'your clothes are going out of style,' that was improv. Where I go 'oh ooooohhhhh,' that actually came from, we used to say 'your mama' jokes off-set, like 'your mama's so fat.' That's how I got the 'oh' thing.
Snyder: OK, I wanna dig in on that improv stuff. Is the back-and-forth between Ham and the opposing team scripted or improv?
Evans: The stuff when the opposing team comes in on their bikes on the sandlot, all that was written.
Renna (Ham): I'll answer the second part. Dave likes to try and give me too much credit for the game, saying I improv'd some of that, but TRUTH is [pause for laughter from everyone], he had a bullhorn on set that day and he was yelling all these insults at me and I just repeated 'em. So the director would say, 'if my dog was as ugly as you, I'd shave his butt and teach him to walk backwards,' and then I would chuckle to myself and go, 'really?' and he'd say 'yes' and I'd repeat it. So that was improv, but it was David.
Leopardi (Squints): A lot of the classic one-liners were improv. I remember all the stuff with us trying to get the ball, [to David] you were writing it with us all sitting there and we were changing it as it went pretty much everyday.
Evans: Yeah, you especially, I put a transmitter in Chauncey's ear, when he was holding the Wheaties box periscope. Written script would say, you know, 'he looks over the fence in the Wheaties periscope,' and, you know, that's it. Very early in production. Maybe halfway through, we became highly aware of the strengths of each of these young guys and it became very easy for me to feed them stuff that came to mind in the moment that was perfectly tailored to them and they killed every one of them.
DiMattia (Timmy): Speaking of those transmitters, I remember it was me and Chauncey and one other of us at the top of the tree house with earpieces in to talk to the ground and all of sudden, we hear the voice of Darth Vader.
Everyone: OH YEAH!
DiMattia (Timmy): That was the day that James Earl Jones showed up on set.
Guiry (Smalls): None of us knew that he was walking up and we just heard this voice and knew who it was right away.
Snyder: In terms of the baseball scenes, who were the really good real-life players?
Everyone in unison: Benny/Mike.
[There was a sarcastic "Mike was terrible!" in there]
Evans: Mike [Vitar, playing Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez] was awesome.
[Background]: He could almost have played college ball he was so good.
Evans: He could've played college ball, no question.
Snyder: Brandon, were you a good pitcher? Looked pretty good.
Brandon Quintin Adams (Kenny DeNunez): I'm a good pitcher, I pitched the hell out of the ball! [Laughs] I'm joking. We were pretty much all on the same level when we came in. We did a little camp at the beginning and brushed up on some things and we just had fun. I think the best part of the movie is that they just captured us being natural and boys being boys, you know, we were just out there and that's where a lot of the feeling and spirit comes from.
We clowned around all the time.
[Background]: We did more of that than actually working.
Adams: We filmed the movie over the summer and it was just like a summer camp. We had a ball.
Snyder: Is there anything else, like a cool story that I should include?
Everyone: MARTY, NO! MARTY NO!!
York (Yeah Yeah): I'm gonna do it again.
[Background]: Don't you do it!
Snyder: Please do.
York: Yeah, I'm doing it. The funniest story is that we all snuck into Basic Instinct one day.
Adams: That was me, that was my idea.
Author's note: Again, the words themselves don't quite do justice to how much fun the quick conversation was. The guys were all great and were laughing almost non-stop. What a great group of guys from a classic movie.
I also will never be able to watch the scene with Hercules tearing through the movie theater screen -- while he's chasing Benny -- without thinking how funny it would be if the screen was showing the interrogation scene of Basic Instinct. You know, since we're adults now and all that.
Picking the best lineup
Yeah, we gotta make a lineup. Of course we do:
The answer to my question from over a week ago is no. Flip Ham and DeNunez. After some good social media feedback -- I never before realized that was possible -- I've realized Ham is more of an all-or-nothing guy and should be back one spot with Kenny taking the three-hole. Benny has a table-setter in front of him but can still be either a table-setter himself or a power hitter in the two-hole a la Kris Bryant. The order of the bottom three doesn't really matter and, frankly, it's a pretty damn good bottom three. We've seen the footage.
The Sandlot lineup:
- Squints, 2B
- Benny the Jet, SS
- Kenny, P
- Ham, C
- Bertram, 1B
- Yeah Yeah, 3B
- Timmy, CF
- Tommy, RF
- Smalls, LF
So where did I get those baseball cards?
Behold, the 25th Anniversary Commemorative Blu-Ray has lots of goodies, like a mini-poster and the baseball cards of the players you saw above in my Twitter lineup.
MLB and Twentieth Century Fox in late March announced a partnership for the upcoming season that will include festivities and events at ballparks throughout the season. Pay attention to your favorite team for promotions at games this summer, as many haven't yet been revealed.
MLB will have its third annual "Play Ball Weekend" this year (dates yet to be determined) in support of Play Ball, which celebrates participation in youth baseball and softball throughout USA and Canada (website here). During Play Ball Weekend, the cast of The Sandlot along with director/writer David Mickey Evans will attend and participate in pre-game activities with the kids.
Also, get your Sandlot gear, folks. MLB.com says it has some stuff coming, but Fox Movies Shop already has some great stuff.
The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in, obviously, Louisville, has also teamed up with The Sandlot for an exhibit. The company made "carefully crafted replicas" of 1960s model bats for the players to use in the 1993 movie. The exhibit contains, via press release:
- The sacred Babe Ruth baseball that must be retrieved from The Beast
- Squints' iconic eyeglasses
- Louisville Slugger bats swung by the team
- The Wheaties box periscope from the gang's treehouse
- Baseball items from Mr. Mertle's home
Everyone is getting in on the action! Check these out:
That's pretty awesome (again, find those in the Fox Shop Sandlot collection). I love that they don't even go with Squints in his baseball gear but instead his bathing suit, so you can get a set of him and Wendy when they first kissed.
Long live The Sandlot, one of the best and most quotable baseball movies of all-time. You're killing me, Smalls.