Patrick Renna starred as the insult-slinging Hamilton “Ham” Porter in The Sandlot—the 1993 film about baseball, a dog and mouth-to-mouth schemes—and will appear in the second season of Netflix’s Glow this summer. The Boston native chatted about the fever pitch around the classic coming-of-age tale on its 25th anniversary.
Ham had quite the mouth on him, yelling insults like, “If my dog was as ugly as you, I’d shave his butt and tell him to walk backward.” Do you have a favorite line? Honestly, I think that might be it. When we filmed that scene, none of that was written and the director was behind the backstop with a bullhorn. Every time someone would come up to the plate he would yell an insult, and then I’d chuckle to myself and go, “Oh my God, you really want me to say that?”
Did you guys crack up all the time filming and have to do a lot of takes? We did. When we filmed the s’mores scene, Tom Guiry was just so good—“Some more of what?” and all that stuff—all the guys in the background were laughing. I think we did that 20, 30 times. Till this day, the director even says, “Watch the scene closely. You’ll still see some of the guys in the background laughing.” He just couldn’t get it to happen without that. And then I’m pretty sure Chauncey Leopardi who plays Squints might have messed up a few times in the pool scene, just to get a little extra screen time, you know?
Speaking of s’mores, Ham liked a burnt mallow. How does Patrick Renna prefer his? Well I’ll tell you, I have never been a huge s’mores guy. However, when I do have them, I think back to what I said and they are not good unless you make them exactly the way I said in the movie. You have to just burn the heck out of the mallow, because then it melts the chocolate. Otherwise the chocolate is cold and not even edible. So it’s actually pretty crucial. I had no idea back then, but it’s really important.
I just came across a T-shirt with “You’re Killing Me Smalls.” Those shirts are kind of throughout. At the Mayweather-McGregor fight, Draymond Green was wearing the shirt, and it was just too much. Justin Turner on the Dodgers said he dressed up as me. It never ceases to amaze me. But then I got to tell you, I haven’t seen Tom Guiry who played Smalls in 25 years. I’ve lived with this line for 25 years, so when I saw him that was pretty special.
Do you own any prized sports memorabilia that you want to keep out of your son’s hands? I have a ball, it’s signed by the whole cast and crew and so I want to keep that away from him because I’ll want to give it to him some day. I have a Muggsy Bogues jersey that’s signed because I did a basketball camp. As maybe not the tallest man in the world myself, I really did grow up loving basketball as well, so to hang out with a 5’3” basketball player that almost could dunk was pretty cool. And I’m pretty sure the jersey says, “You. Me. One on one. Let’s do it.”
At the end of The Sandlot, Ham goes on to a professional wrestling career. Now, you’re starring as superfan Cupcake in Glow. What are the odds, right? I’m on a wrestling show with some glorious ladies so they can all just beat the crap out of me for saying, “You play ball like a girl.” It’s perfect. It all comes full circle.
What was filming GLOW like? I had done a movie that I produced also called Bad Roomies and Jackie Tohn who plays Melrose on Glow played my girlfriend in the movie. And I’ve known Jackie for probably 20 years or something just around Hollywood, so I already had a friend on set and she was so great. Then I met all the girls and they were all Sandlot fans, which was awesome. When you do a show and you do a couple episodes, you’re kind of coming onto their turf and sometimes it can be a little tough to get to know everyone because they’ve been working together for two years. But it was great. They have such a fun time on the show. You can tell. I mean, that’s why I think it’s so good.
Are you a Boston sports fan at all? Oh God. Of course. Of course. I definitely am. I love the Patriots, I love the Red Sox, the Celtics. I’m not the biggest hockey fan, but always go for the Bruins. They’re up 2-1 right now. They lost last night, right? All my cousins played hockey. That’s just the one sport I never got down. I got to have my feet on the ground, I was never a good ice skater. You know, it’s kind of funny, and a little sacrilegious to almost say, but I’m not a hater in sports. Do you know what I mean? I don’t hate anyone except the New York Giants. But even then, you gotta love Eli.
Do you have a favorite baseball movie? I would have to say Field of Dreams. That and A League of Their Own. When it came out, I was in Burbank. That was when Rosie O’Donnell was doing tons of movies before her talk show and so I literally fell in love with Rosie O’Donnell from that movie. And as I’m walking out of the theater, someone honks at me and it’s Rosie O’Donnell. And she goes, “Hey, Sandlot! I love you!” I almost passed out.