The Brewers may have been off Monday, but they were all over social media thanks to an uncanny recreation of a scene from the 1993 film "The Sandlot" that went viral on Sunday night. Brewers director of new media Caitlin Moyer explained how the project came together.
MLB.com: Where did this idea come from?
Moyer: We're always looking for something fun to do, and certain anniversaries provide good inspiration. Last year, it was "Wayne's World." We did the "Brett's World" skit with [Brett] Phillips and Josh Hader. At the end of last season, Aaron [Oberley, the Brewers' coordinator of new media] and I looked at what went well during the year and what we wanted to do for last year. So it was probably in October that this started.
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The 25th anniversary of "The Sandlot" stood out in a huge way. Everybody loves "The Sandlot," and we knew it would resonate with this group of guys because this movie was right in their age group. I'm dating myself here, but I look back and I was 10 when this movie came out, and honestly it's one of the things that got me into baseball the way that I am. For the guys, it was something they grew up watching.
For me, the biggest feat is we got nine guys to stay after practice to do this. I think that speaks volumes about how much they bought in.
MLB.com: Casting was key. Who immediately came to mind when you started planning this?
Moyer: When you think of Squints, you think of Eric Sogard with the glasses, for sure. "Ham" Porter and Stephen Vogt. And then Smalls and Brett Phillips. Those were the three we were really thinking of when this idea came together. We knew Phillips was all about this type of stuff after doing such a great job in "Brett's World." I actually asked him first, because I thought if I could get his buy-in, other guys would jump on board.
You know how that locker room is in Maryvale, [Ariz.]. Vogt is right there, and he heard me say, "Sandlot," and his ears perked up and he goes, "If you're doing anything for "The Sandlot," I'm in. Can I be Porter?" Then, it just happened that Christian Yelich's locker is right between them, so he kind of got roped in even though this was after about four days of him trying to figure out, "Who is this girl with her weird bag of props in the clubhouse?" But he was game. The guys all had ideas about who would be good for the other roles. It all fell into place.
MLB.com: How did you shoot it?
Moyer: We did it Feb. 21, the day before photo day. We have a new in-house production team this year with three videographers, and they were down in Phoenix for a number of projects for the marketing department. I can't say enough about the job they did, from filming the footage to putting it all together. It was really a group effort.
I got the clip of what we were trying to achieve and circulated it to the guys so they knew it. Then we made character sheets for each guy with pictures, and I made a list of what we would need to source, and what the guys would need to bring themselves. Jeremy Jeffress' mom sent his Milwaukee Bears cap [from a Negro Leagues tribute game at Miller Park] from Virginia so he could wear it; I think his character, Kenny DeNunez, wore a Kansas City Monarchs cap in the movie. That was the attention to detail we were going for. But he forgot jeans, so he's actually wearing Hernan Perez's jeans in the video.
The final piece was getting Hank. I felt like if we didn't have Hank as "The Beast," we were missing something. Hank isn't down at Spring Training, so we had to coordinate with Marti [Wronski, the Brewers' general counsel who adopted the dog when he moved to Milwaukee] to film him at home. She was down in Spring Training with her family at the time, so we had to wait until she got back to do it. I had to keep my fingers crossed that it didn't snow in the meantime.
MLB.com: How many takes were ruined by Brett Phillips' laugh?
Moyer: Actually, I don't think he locked up once. The thing that got everyone rolling, to the point of falling on the ground, was Hernan. His line is, "Yeah, yeah, truly!" And the way he delivered it, so seriously and with his thick accent, there was a pause and then everyone cracked up. That was the biggest laugh. We're working on some other outtakes now.
My other favorite thing was at the end of the thing, when they yell "Campout!" there was a take where four or so of the guys spontaneously started singing the transition to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," just like in the movie. I said to Vogt, "That was perfect, I wish we had kept rolling." He was like, "Well, I'll sing it for you if you want." So that's Stephen Vogt singing over the credits.
MLB.com: What was the budget for this?
Moyer: Gosh, it was a couple hundred dollars. I saw somebody tweeted, "I wish my team had this kind of budget to pull something like this off." That made me laugh to myself.
MLB.com: When did you see the result?
Moyer: About two weeks ago, I got a cut that had everything but the Hank scene, and I was able to show it around to the guys. I think Yelich's quote was, "Wow, that's actually good!"
I don't use the word "viral" loosely, but I just knew it was going to be huge. It was a matter of timing the release. There's a good reason it came out when it did that will become clear shortly, so stay tuned for that. And then it was so perfect that Yelich had a great game [on Sunday against the Dodgers, when he hit his first Brewers home run and reached safely four times]. I told him, "Wow, what a 'Benny the Jet' performance. Thank you for that."
MLB.com: Have you looked at any 2019 anniversaries yet? Any ideas about what's next?
Moyer: It's going to be really hard to top this. I haven't looked ahead that far yet because I'm trying to get to Opening Day first. But we're going to try. This is a really fun clubhouse, and when you have the guys buy in, it makes it that much better.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.