HomeInterviewsPatrick Renna on The 'Sandlot' Cast Reunion Charity Event & The Film's...

Patrick Renna on The ‘Sandlot’ Cast Reunion Charity Event & The Film’s Cultural Impact

Photo Credit: The Riker Brothers

In the spring of 1993, a group of nine performers, between the ages of 10-14, united for a baseball-driven masterpiece that transcended the medium of cinema, and forever influenced the fabric of American sports and pop culture.

With an eternal dynamic of pitch-perfect storytelling, The Sandlot captured the purest essence of youth, friendship, mischief, humor, and most importantly, an infinite amount of heart. This sense of brotherhood between all nine cast members felt so authentic, there is no acting technique that could replicate their collective spirit. And over the past few years, the team has reconnected with one-another, and they continue to embody the chemistry that has inspired millions of fans to laugh, cry, and everything in-between.

Better yet, The Sandlot crew recently made a quick trip to Vincent’s Drug Store, purchased a 98-cent baseball, and returned to their hollowed field (virtually) for a highly-anticipated cast reunion. This upcoming special includes David Mickey Evans (Director/Co-Writer), Tom Guiry (Scott Smalls), Patrick Renna (Ham Porter), Chauncey Leopardi (Michael “Squints” Palledorous), Marty York (Alan “Yeah-Yeah” McClennan), Brandon Quintin Adams (Kenny DeNunez), Grant Gelt (Bertram Weeks), Victor Di Mattia (Timmy Timmons), and Shane Obedzinski (Tommy “Repeat” Timmons).

Coordinated by Patrick Renna, The Sandlot Cast Reunion will officially debut on July 15 and could be found on his YouTube channel, You’re Killing Me With Patrick Renna. Once again, he pointed straight towards the outfield and hit a homerun by recruiting Marley Shelton (Wendy Peffercorn), Wil Horneff (Phillips), and even Art LaFleur (Babe Ruth).

The cast will be joined by special guest host and Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Justin Turner and his wife, Kourtney Turner. All proceeds from this event will go to the Justin Turner Foundation, which supports homeless veterans, children (and their families) battling life-altering illnesses and diseases, various youth baseball organizations, and those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a testament to The Sandlot’s multi-generational impact on Major League Baseball, this reunion special will also include Andre Either, Dee Gordon (Seattle Mariners), Enrique “Kiké” Hernandez (Los Angeles Dodgers), and Mike Moustakes (Cincinnati Reds).

In fact, I recently interviewed Patrick Renna to discuss all aspects related to The Sandlot Cast Reunion, his new YouTube channel, meeting star athletes who admire “The Great Hambino,” The Big Green’s 25th anniversary, family life, and some incredible sports stories.

Hey Pat, I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. I know it’s pretty early west coast time. First off, allow me to say congrats on the birth of your son, Liam!

Patrick Renna:  Thank you!

In terms of spending time with your family, having a new baby, the quarantine, and all the work that you’ve done with your YouTube channel, what have these past few months been like?

Patrick Renna:  I have been busy, which has been good. I also have a three-year-old son and now having two kids is a lot more work than one. It has been great, and we are really excited to have them both in our lives. With the quarantine, it’s the same for us as it is for everyone. It’s definitely a harder time for everyone. Some have it a lot worse, especially depending on the location. I know in New York; it was really difficult because so many people live on top of each other. Luckily, in Los Angeles, it’s a big city that’s spread out a bit more, so it’s a little bit easier to socially distance. And with the YouTube channel, it’s keeping me busy and I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

With your “vLogs,” you have captured everything from working on outdoor projects to cooking with your wife and oldest son. How has it been combining these two worlds, your creativity and family life, together?

Patrick Renna: Well, that was actually never the real, full intention. We were supposed to launch the channel before the pandemic hit. We had some fun ideas beforehand, which we are still going to do. When the quarantine hit, we decided to roll with it and throw some videos out there about my life at home. It’s interesting because I have never been that open and filmed things like that. It has been a lot of fun, but I am very much looking forward to life, hopefully, getting back to normal for everyone. And I would like to get out there and film some fun videos out there in the world.

On the positive end of the spectrum, this quarantine and your channel has allowed you to reconnect with your castmates from The Sandlot.  In terms of the concept behind Secrets of the Sandlot and The Sandlot Cast Reunion, how did this idea initially come together?

Patrick Renna: I had seen some reunions out there, and they looked like a lot of fun. I thought that we should do a Zoom reunion with the guys and everyone was pretty into it. Over the years, we have been able to meet a bunch of the Dodgers players and we became acquaintances with those guys, which has been really awesome. So, I reached out to Justin Turner to see if both he and his wife Kourtney would host it because I thought that would add a very cool element to it. We had a lot of fun with them and some other Major League Baseball players. Mike Vitar, who plays Benny, he doesn’t really do these things. He has chosen to not be in the picture, so we kind of have a good time with finding a new “Benny.” I will just say that about the reunion.

I know you and Justin Turner have developed a solid friendship over the years. In terms of being friends off the field, how did it feel to welcome him into The Sandlot crew?

Patrick Renna: I would love to say we have a solid friendship; I just don’t know if I know him that well. Maybe we’ll become good buds in the future. I have met him a few times and I’ve watched him play, and I’ve always been in awe of any Major League Baseball player or athlete. It has been really cool getting to hang out with him and getting to know him a bit.

He used to use “Ham Porter’’ as an alias on the road when he would travel. He told me that when I met him and I blew his cover on national media because I was too excited about it, so I don’t think he is “Ham Porter” anymore (Laughs). I just thought he would be the perfect guy to host it. He has a great charity, The Justin Turner Foundation, and I went to one of his golf tournaments about two-years-ago. I thought everything they were doing was really great, so I think it was the perfect way to get everyone together and have a great host.

If I’m not mistaken, Justin extended the invite to Andre Either (formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers), Dee Gordon (Seattle Mariners), Enrique “Kiké” Hernandez (Los Angeles Dodgers), and Mike Moustakes (Cincinnati Reds). Had you met any of these players beforehand and are there any stories that you could share about them and their official induction into The Sandlot?

Patrick Renna: I think I briefly met Kiké for the 25th anniversary, and I obviously met him through the Zoom call. I cannot remember if Dee Gordon was on the Dodgers back then, but we definitely would have met him if he was on the team. Everything happened so fast when we celebrated the 25th anniversary at Dodgers Stadium. We met all the players, so it’s kind of hard to remember.

I do remember meeting Matt Kemp at Dodgers stadium. All of the Sandlot guys were together on the field and Matt Kemp came up to us and said, “I just want to let you guys know, you are one of the reasons why I got into baseball.” His eyes kind of welled up, so that was a really cool experience. These guys are larger-than-life, so when they are telling you that you had an influence on them becoming Major League Baseball players, it’s pretty cool to hear that.

In your position and even for your cast mates, what is it like to wrap your mind around that notion?

Patrick Renna: It’s absolutely crazy to even know that you had a small part of something like inspiring a Major League Baseball player. Just to play a small part in their desire to get into playing sports, it’s insane, trippy, and just the craziest feeling.


This website is based in the heart of Yankees and Mets fandom. Both teams have invited you to their parks in recent years. Do you have any cool stories that you could share about meeting both teams?

Patrick Renna:  It was amazing to go visit the Mets stadium. One of my favorite things about going to Yankees Stadium and Mets Stadium, it was being able to take the train there. In Los Angeles, you have to drive up there, park, and do that whole experience. Being able to get on a train, arrive at the stadium, and you just get to hop off and walk right in, that is pretty special.

And yeah, the Mets were so great. They welcomed us in, and we hung out with them at their batting practice. And being able to hang out with the Yankees, I was able to meet Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and a few other players from the team. It was amazing and being able to meet any of those guys and watch sporting events in those stadiums, it is a special experience.

I’m originally from Boston, so it was amazing to go visit Fenway Park. Unfortunately, I missed their batting practice and didn’t get to meet any of those guys. Just even being at Fenway Park, you’re able to walk through the tunnel and into the ballpark, and you just get the chills. And even at the new Yankees stadium, being able to look across to where the old Yankees Stadium used to be and knowing that’s where Babe Ruth accomplished everything he did, it’s pretty great.

With both the film and cast reunions, I would say you guys have the deepest ties with the Dodgers.

Patrick Renna: Yeah, plus the film also took place at Dodgers Stadium, so I think there is a nice built-in bond because of that.

And as you mentioned before, you have met Matt Kemp, Justin Turner, and multiple players from the team. They almost won the World Series a few years back.

Patrick Renna: Let’s be honest, they kind of did win the World Series. You’re not from Houston, are you?

(Laughs) No, I completely agree with you. The Dodgers won the World Series.

Patrick Renna: They should have won! I know they don’t want it like that. I’ve heard Justin talk about it and nobody wants the trophy like that, but they kind of won. Hopefully, they will win it this year.

When you watch the Dodgers play and know they are a championship-caliber team, has it been a surreal feeling since you actually know these guys personally?

Patrick Renna: It is special. When I made the movie, we never expected it to become what it has become. It never ceases to amaze me with the doors that it continues to open and the people that you get to meet. It is pretty wild.

For the Secrets of the Sandlot series, how did you go about coming up with your questions and keeping it consistent with your approach for each interview?

Patrick Renna: I do the channel with a production team, and we went back-and-forth with what we thought would be a good set of questions. We definitely wanted to keep it consistent, and make sure we asked them some good questions.

With your one-on-one conversations with each castmate, what kind of new perspectives and tidbits have impacted you the most while hearing their individual takes on The Sandlot, as opposed to the usual group structure that you guys have done in the past?

Patrick Renna: I’ve really enjoyed just being able to chat with them. Our experiences together have always been being interviewed by other people and honestly, you get a lot of the same questions with those interviews. It’s a different experience when I get to sit there one-on-one with them. The things they say, it sparks my memory and it reminds me of things where I’m like, “Oh yeah, that’s right!” And I do the same thing for them.

I think that has been the coolest part of it. It is an interview where I am asking them questions, but at the same time, it’s also a trip down memory lane for me because they remind me about things that I had forgotten about, you know what I mean?

You’ve had this Marvel-like buildup where you spoke with each castmate of The Sandlot during Secrets of the Sandlot, and it all culminates with The Sandlot Cast Reunion. It’s not just the core members of the team, but you also invited Marley Shelton, Wil Horneff, and Art LaFleur. Could you walk us through this effort to coordinate these plans behind the scenes?

Patrick Renna: Yeah, it’s very exciting. We wanted to make it fun and we were able to get the big two, Art LeFleaur and Marley Shelton. And I like that, the Sandlot-Marvel version (Laughs). I didn’t think of it that way but that’s a good take on that.

I know Marley Shelton and Wil Horneff have joined you guys for some past reunions. From a friendship standpoint, how has it been to reconnect with them over the years and extend the invite for this special? They both played a big part in the fabric of The Sandlot.

Patrick Renna: The cool thing and I will start with Marley first, when we filmed the movie, she was only there for a day, maybe even two-days. She came to the set and filmed the pool scene. We had very little interaction with her and then she was gone. It’s just kind of a funny thing to think about, she had such a short experience there herself, but she had such a large and lasting effect on the movie for years-to-come. She is one of the most celebrated characters of the film. It has been really cool just even getting to know Marley. I did a couple of appearances with her a few years ago, and it was really the most that I had ever talked to her. I was even a little nervous because I didn’t know what she was like. She turned out to be such a wonderful person and just getting to know her was very cool.

With Wil, I definitely knew him. He was on the set a little bit longer and we had a lot of scenes together. He really was one of the main guys. Yeah, we were on opposing teams on-screen but off-screen, he was just another one of the buds. It has been great to reconnect and see him over the years. So, I figured that we had to have him join us for the reunion, for sure.

And seeing Art LaFleur reprise his role as “The Babe,” it was such a great way to end the trailer. How much did it mean to you for Art to accept the invite?

Patrick Renna: He is obviously such an important part of the film and it was very cool to have him. I reached out to his wife to get him involved. I have seen him a couple of times over the years. And he was great. I mean, he is The Sandlot. He is “The Babe,” come on!

Do you think the momentum and excitement for this ZOOM reunion will inspire Disney to officially greenlight the TV series that has been in the talks?

Patrick Renna: Yeah, sure. I really don’t know. Maybe this will do that. Things are pretty wild out there right now. You never know and I just think Hollywood needs to start up again before anything gets greenlit. Hopefully, that will start to happen.

Going off that point, you’ve been a performer for over twenty-five-years now, and you live in Los Angeles. What do you envision for the Hollywood landscape over these next few years?

Patrick Renna: I really don’t know what to expect. I’m very curious to see what happens. I know some productions have started to film and they’ve quarantined in their own bubble like the NBA. We will see. I don’t know when life is going to get back to complete normalcy, and that will hopefully happen sometime next year. In the meantime, we’ll just do what can be filmed safely and go from there.

The Big Green is only a few months away from celebrating its 25th anniversary. That is a beloved film in your history, and you even experienced another summer of filming with Chauncey Leopardi. What did that experience mean to you and is it a crazy feeling to wrap your mind around that milestone?

Patrick Renna: It really is! I was a bit older when I filmed that one, so that was a different experience. It was a great time and people seem to love that film as well. It is crazy to think about. I just don’t know if I’m shocked by anything anymore though because The Sandlot is 27 years old now (Laughs).

Is there any chance you might set up a ZOOM reunion with Holly Goldberg Sloan (Director) and Chauncey Leopardi (Evan Schiff) to celebrate The Big Green?

Patrick Renna: Huh, maybe! I’ve seen a couple of the guys over the years, like Anthony who played “Juan.” Maybe we will. That would be fun, and I haven’t spoken to some of those guys in a while.

I wanted to ask you, could you take me back to the moment where you fell in love with acting? Was there a specific teacher or acting class that inspired you? What kickstarted your passion before you moved to LA and were cast in The Sandlot?

Patrick Renna: I was definitely doing school plays in Boston, and it was always something that I really enjoyed doing. My mom just knew that I wanted to perform, and she had an opportunity out in Los Angeles for herself. She took it and brought me out and the rest is history. It all fell into place a little bit.

That’s amazing. Was there also a specific show or film that inspired you to act?

Patrick Renna: Gosh, no, I don’t think so. I mean, the movie that was like my Sandlot when I was growing up, it was The Goonies, so maybe that had a little something to do with it. It was my favorite movie, but I honestly think it was more so doing school plays.

Could you see yourself doing theater again?

Patrick Renna: Yeah! I love theater and I could definitely see myself doing it. It’s a lot of work but absolutely, it has always been something that I have loved doing. And for sure, I could definitely see myself getting into it again.

I do have a sports question. You’ve lived in L.A. for a long time. Am I correct in saying that you’re a Lakers fan?

Patrick Renna: Yeah, I mean, I’m from Boston, so I’m hesitant in saying that I’m anything but a Boston fan. But I have lived in L.A. long enough, and I grew up watching Kobe and Shaq, so I don’t know how you can’t be a Lakers fan when those two were playing over the last twenty-years.

Over the years, did you happen to see any noteworthy games at the Forum or Staples Center that stand out?

Patrick Renna: I didn’t go to the Forum. I was living in L.A. when they were still playing in the Forum, but honestly, I was a little bit younger and I was usually gone filming movies. I have definitely been to the Staples Center plenty of times. It was really cool watching the Lakers over the years. I never got to meet Kobe Bryant, and I know he was actually a big Sandlot fan. He used to talk about it, so that makes it even more heartbreaking.

Photo Credit: The Riker Brothers

However, I did meet Shaq once. He used to do these things called “SHAQtacular,” and it was a charity event. This was about twenty-years-ago or something like that. I was sitting there playing basketball and suddenly, I heard this voice behind me say, “Hey, what’s up there, little man?” And then a hand engulfed my head and he had put his hand on my head. His fingers went all the way down to my chin, and I turned around and there was Shaq. Obviously, he was a Sandlot fan and I’ve seen him wear the shirt with me on it. That was really cool because who isn’t a Shaq fan? You know what I mean? He’s one of the greatest of all-time, and if not, he’s definitely a top-10 player. He has such an amazing personality, so that was really cool.

Kobe Bryant was a big fan of The Sandlot. Shaquille O’Neal has worn a shirt with your picture on it. And you’ve also been Kevin Durant’s avatar on Twitter for about three-years now. When that originally happened, did your phone just go crazy with texts?

Patrick Renna: (Laughs) I think so! Every now and then, I will get a text from someone who will say to me, “Woah! Hey, have you seen this?” And that’s really cool. I would really love to meet him, and I’ve been a big fan of his too because he is such an amazing basketball player. By the end of his basketball career, he is already a top 20 player, but maybe he’ll push his way into the top 10.

To end this off with one last sports question. The NBA and MLB are both scheduled to start soon. Who do you think might win either championship? I know it’s hard to predict with baseball, but we had a pretty good look at the basketball season.

Patrick Renna: I think either the Clippers or Lakers are going to win. I don’t think the Bucks will do it, I mean, I guess maybe they could. It’s probably one of those three teams. With baseball, I don’t know but the Dodgers definitely have a really good shot. It’s tough with sports right now because it’s going to be such a different experience. You really just don’t know. With the Lakers, they are going down to Orlando without Avery Bradley. He’s not going to “The Bubble” and they’ve picked up another player, I can’t think of his name and he played with Cleveland?

J.R. Smith.

Patrick Renna: Yes, J.R. Smith. Who knows what that might do to the team dynamic? Who knows who is going to go stir crazy and hate “The Bubble?” With baseball, a 60-game season is crazy. To think back to last year, The Dodgers started off last season awful and then they really picked it up. I was listening to sports talk radio and Washington wouldn’t have even made the playoffs in a 60-game season. The MLB champions of last year wouldn’t have even been in the playoffs.

It’s going to be really interesting. I’ve heard people argue on whether it’s going to be easier or harder to win this year. I would definitely say that it’s harder and I don’t think any asterisk should be put on any championship won this year. It’s going to be quite a taxing experience to get there.

I completely agree. It’s not even just going to be about strategies or matchups. Even beyond injuries, who could legitimately stay healthy? Fingers crossed.

Patrick Renna: Absolutely. And your Nets are in it too!

Catch The Sandlot Reunion, hosted by Patrick Renna, on his YouTube Channel – You’re Killing Me with Patrick Renna – tonight.

Anthony Toto
Anthony Totohttps://pathbrite.com/AnthonyMToto/profile
Anthony Toto is a senior writer and social media manager for The Pop Break. Works in the music industry and interviews prominent artists, bands, and musicians. Longtime guitarist, Rutgers Graduate, and wholeheartedly believes in the ethereal power of music.

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