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'Sandlot' cast kicks off All-Star Week festivities

MLB.com @alysonfooter

WASHINGTON -- Twenty-five years later, Patrick Renna understands the drill.

Regardless of how many great lines came out of the 1993 hit movie "The Sandlot," and how many memorable characters fans of that film still hold dear, no single moment from the cult-favorite coming-of-age baseball tale will ever top the famous utterance from Renna's character, Hamilton "Ham" Porter.

WASHINGTON -- Twenty-five years later, Patrick Renna understands the drill.

Regardless of how many great lines came out of the 1993 hit movie "The Sandlot," and how many memorable characters fans of that film still hold dear, no single moment from the cult-favorite coming-of-age baseball tale will ever top the famous utterance from Renna's character, Hamilton "Ham" Porter.

So, when asked what stands out more than anything else from the movie, Renna just blurts it out.

"You're killing me, Smalls," the distinctive-looking redhead, now 39 years old, says with a grin.

The kids from "The Sandlot" are all grown up now. They're also more visible than they've been since the movie hit theaters, and for good reason -- the film, and its cast, are celebrating the 25th anniversary of its release.

With Major League Baseball incorporating more kid-friendly events than ever before during its annual All-Star Game festivities, it was only fitting that the cast from one of the most famous family-friendly baseball movies would be present to welcome the start of All-Star Week in Washington, D.C.

Seven actors from "The Sandlot," plus director David Mickey Evans, attended the opening ceremony of PLAY BALL Park on Thursday, engaging the crowd in a Q&A about some of their best memories from shooting the film.

Video: Celebs on Play Ball Park opening in D.C.

Their recollections played like a soundtrack to the perfect baseball-centric childhood.

"It felt like a summer camp, a baseball summer camp," said Tom Guiry, who played Scotty Smalls. "It was probably one of the best summers of my childhood. It was a lot of fun. I think it comes out in the movie -- we all connected, we all had a friendship. It captured that in film, which was really cool."

"The Sandlot" was filmed in Utah, but the kids first all met in Los Angeles. Instant friendships were formed.

"We just played baseball together for a couple weeks -- that's how we got to know each other," Renna said. "Those were our first memories of each other, just hitting the ball around, playing baseball for a couple weeks at the beginning of summer, and becoming buddies."

The best part of the summer of filming? The whole thing said Shane Obedzinski, who played Tommy "Repeat" Timmons.

"You met your best friends and you got to play baseball all summer and film a great movie," he said, adding that they played a lot of Super Nintendo in their free time.

The appearance by the cast, which was followed by a special screening of the movie, highlighted a fun night of baseball at PLAY BALL Park, which will be open all day, every day, leading up to the All-Star Game at Nationals Park on Tuesday.

Various programming partners will be on-hand at PLAY BALL Park to provide fun, engaging and educational activities for youth baseball and softball players -- all in the backdrop of the Midsummer Classic.

Several key figures involved in All-Star Week attended the opening ceremony, including players who will compete in the Commissioner's Cup and Jennie Finch Classic this weekend. The two tournaments, comprised of teams from MLB Youth Academies from all over the country, are a new addition to All-Star festivities this year.

Also on hand at Thursday's ceremony was Hall of Fame electee Jack Morris, who spoke of the importance of kids developing a love for baseball at a young age, and sticking with it.

"I hope the kids like it, that their parents bring them out here and they can run around and play ball," Morris said. "Baseball's really making a statement by getting kids involved in the game. This ignites their curiosity, and they go home and play baseball. Maybe one of those kids that came to a PLAY BALL Park at an All-Star Game will get to the big leagues and think, 'That really got me going.'"

However the method, the point is, simply, to just Play Ball.

It worked on "The Sandlot" kids, after all.

"Obviously, Major League Baseball players are the best in the world," Renna said. "But it's always a sport that you don't have to be 6-foot-5, you don't have to be a seven-footer, you don't have to be 300 pounds. It really is a sport that anyone can excel at.

"When you go to a baseball game, and it's a boundless sport, but it's also so much more. You see fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. It's special."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.