SALT LAKE CITY — Most baseball players were introduced to the sport with a pickup game.
They played with rolled-up socks in their living rooms. Or in the street out in front of their houses. Or, possibly, in a dusty sandlot.
And, as just kids, they played purely for the love of the game.
Part of the cast of “The Sandlot” attended the Salt Lake Bees game Friday evening — which the Bees lost 18-7 to Sacramento — to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film. Their presence and their familiar faces reminded those at Spring Mobile Ballpark of that juvenile bliss.
“You have to have that little kid in you and that feeling of being out in the sandlot and getting in a pickle,” said Bees manager Keith Johnson prior to the game.
“The higher up you go, the more corporate it gets, the more of a job it becomes,” he said. “But the guys who are really good at this game, they still have that little kid in them.”
Five cast members — Victor Dimattia (Timmy Timmons), Shane Obedzinski (Tommy ‘Repeat’ Timmons), Patrick Renna (Hamilton Porter), Marty York (Alan ‘Yeah-Yeah’ McClennan) and Daniel Zacapa (Grandpa Squints) — along with writer and director David Mickey Evans and producer Cathleen Summers attended batting practice. They donned Bees jerseys with their character names on the back and posed for photos with Johnson and the players, who grew up watching the movie.
As the Bees left the field, they relived their favorite lines and scenes from the baseball classic.
“My favorite is probably from Ham when he says, ‘Plaaaaay baaaall’,” said left fielder Roberto Lopez. “Or ‘for-ev-er.’ I find myself quoting ‘forever’ a lot.”
Johnson added that he finds himself saying, "You’re killing me, Smalls," and center fielder Kole Calhoun said people often comment on how similar he looks to one of the cast members.
“My whole life, I was known as Hamilton Porter,” Calhoun said. “People always said, ‘Oh, you’re the catcher from Sandlot’ because I had red hair and freckles. I did catch a little bit, too, so it played into that.”
"The Sandlot" cast, which included late-comer Chauncey Leopardi (Michael ‘Squints’ Palledorous), threw out the first pitches of the game — with Ham behind the plate — and spent the first five innings signing autographs for the crowd of 11,785 fans. Cast members led the ballpark in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and everyone watched the film post game.
“It’s actually become a culture favorite as far as sports movies for kids,” Calhoun said, adding that he watched the movie often as he was growing up.
“It is pretty cool to have watched that movie growing up and now, years later, those guys are here watching us play baseball.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.