Patrick Renna knows how special it is that The Sandlot has stood the test of time. As the movie celebrates its 30th anniversary, the actor, who played “Ham” Porter in the movie, still hears from people who the film was a huge part of their lives. “Being part of something that’s lasted that long and meant that much to multiple generations, is really cool. And it’s very humbling because that’s why we as actors do what we do, it’s to entertain audiences. It’s really cool to be part of something like that,” he tells HollywoodLife, while discussing his partnership with Dairy Queen.
Besides being a favorite for those who grew up watching it, The Sandlot has spawned two direct-to-video sequels, a Disney+ series, and regularly gets named in lists of the best children’s movies of that era. While the original is still the most celebrated, the sequels and series have re-introduced The Sandlot to new generations. Plus, now that many 90s kids have become parents, they pass on their adoration for the original movie to their own children.
Patrick said that as a dad himself, he found a new appreciation for parents re-watching The Sandlot with their kids when he got to show his son one of his childhood favorites. “I just showed my son, my six-year-old, The Goonies for the first time, which is sort of like my Sandlot. And so now I understand why there’s something extra special about when you show your next generation, your kids a movie that you grew up watching, and they have the same reaction to it,” he explained. “It’s pretty cool. So I see why, the fathers and mothers love showing their kids Sandlot now.”
Besides childhood nostalgia, one of the aspects of The Sandlot that has given it staying power is how endlessly quotable it is. Ham’s classic line “You’re killing me, Smalls” has found its way onto countless t-shirts. In fact, the line even gets repeated by some people who have never seen the movie, according to Comic Book Resource. Patrick admitted it’s the line that gets called out to him the most (“I’ve heard it a time or two”). With the movie being full of memorable quotes, he did reveal one that he feels sometimes flies under the radar. “‘I’m baking like a toasted cheeser’ is a good one that I don’t feel like gets enough props,” he said. “That one was a fun one.”
Speaking of memorable lines, another classic moment that no one forgets is when Ham teaches Smalls how to make s’mores, and Patrick got to re-create his iconic instructions to tell people how to enjoy the S’Mores Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Patrick and his production company teamed up with DQ to announce that the frozen dessert has returned to the Summer Blizzard Treat menu. “The S’mores Blizzard is the number one most requested flavor to come back. So they brought it back. And it’s a perfect time. Summer’s coming, I suppose since it’s s’mores, I’d like to think I am one of the ambassadors to s’mores,” he explained. “So we have a couple of different videos, and it was just it was a lot of fun. The creative that they put together on it was really fun. It’s the perfect partnership. So s’mores and summer you know, you can’t beat that.”
It also helps that the S’Mores Blizzard is delicious. “I do understand why it’s the most requested return flavor, because I had a few myself while shooting it. And it’s pretty darn good,” he said. “The S’mores Blizzard is ranked number one by fans. I can tell you right now, I would rank it number one as a fan myself. So that S’Mores Blizzard is delicious. So go get it. It’s perfect after a warm day in the sun playing baseball.”
The Dairy Queen spots aren’t the only place where Patrick gets to relive his time on The Sandlot. He has been working on another exciting project, where he’s returning to his baseball roots a bit: the upcoming movie Boys of Summer. The movie takes place over the summer in the late 90s, and it features a group of youngsters who have a run-in with a witch on Martha’s Vineyard, per Deadline. The kids also play some baseball, and Patrick fittingly plays an umpire.
While Patrick has appeared in tons of movies and TV shows over the years, he said that returning to a baseball movie as an adult made him feel like a kid again. “That was a great time. The kids in it were great. I think they were about the same age that I was when I did The Sandlot. Mason Thames and a couple of other great actors: Julian Lerner and Abby Witherspoon, Reese Witherspoon’s niece, I think. Those three kids were the main ones that I hung out with, and it was funny to see kids on a set and be the adult,” he said.
The actor also talked about getting to bond with the young stars on set. “I was taking a lunch break and walking into the room, and those three were sitting at the table. And then there were a bunch of adults over there, and I went and sat at the kids’ table because I was like, ‘This feels right.’ Yet, I’m the old guy going and sitting with them. And I said, ‘Can I sit with you?’ And they’re like, ‘Absolutely,’” he recalled. “We had a great lunch.”
While he’s continuing to do new things and explore other ventures, Patrick revealed that he’s incredibly grateful for all the doors that The Sandlot opened, even 30 years after it first premiered. “I’ve just chosen to look at it in a positive way. Because honestly, I meet so many new people because of it, and 99% of the people I meet, have something nice to say. And it opens doors, and it starts conversations and you can see on the other side, what it’s meant to people,” he said.
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