Squints and Ham, 20 years later

Squints and Ham, 20 years later


The Sandlot came out 20 years ago. That's the bad news, because it means you're old.

Let's start over.

The Sandlot came out 20 years ago. That's the good news, because it means you get to participate in some nostalgia.

As part of the anniversary of the film, a special edition is out on DVD and Blu-Ray. And, as luck would have it, Chauncey Leopardi (Squints) and Patrick Renna (Ham) are on a tour with director David Mickey Evans to promote it. Not only that, but the movie about young baseball pals will be shown at Target Field and on FSN after Sunday's game against the Red Sox. Leopardi, Renna and Evans -- along with a considerable entourage -- were nice enough to drop by the Star Tribune on Friday afternoon to talk about the film and the tour. Leopardi was wearing pristine Vans and liked our more scuffed up ones, but that's neither here nor there.

*Evans, on why 'The Sandlot' endures while other movies of its ilk are forgotten: "By and large, other movies that attempt what ‘The Sandlot’ attempted, just don’t cut the mustard. It’s not honest and it’s not authentic. This movie was honest and authentic. … And the period piece had something to do with it. This was that one last summer [set in 1962, a year before Kennedy was assassinated], that Eisenhower post-World War II innocence. It was a simpler time. ... And this movie is not about baseball. It's about friendship, courage and character. Most other sports films are about the game, or the big game."

*Renna on the role of Ham: I think there is a little of every character in everyone, if that makes sense. I don't think I was necessarily being myself, but I think that Ham is definitely within me to some degree, and all I had to do was pull it out of myself. That's one thing David was great at.

*Does Renna -- who looks almost exactly the same 20 years later -- still get stopped daily by people on the street? It's hard to say how often. Well, it's every day. It depends on where I am. It happened 3-4 times today. If it's at Disneyland, forget about it. But that's another thing that I think makes the movie great -- how many generations it transcends.

*Leopardi on reactions to the film and from fans meeting him: "It doesn't matter whether people are 40 or if they're 6 and they're showing it to their kids. They geat really excited, like a pop star walked into the room when they meet us and it's like 'Sandlot? What?' They get this super Kool-Aid grin."

*Renna on whether he gets asked to say "you're killing me, Smalls," often: A lot of times, people say it to me. So I get off the hook. On this trip I've been asked to say it. But when someone yells 'you play ball like a girl,' that's a tough one to respond to. You're killing me, Smalls, that's an easier one.