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'The Sandlot' came out 30 years ago. Marty York reflects on his experience working on the movie

Ready to feel old? The movie "The Sandlot" was released more than 30 years ago. The story of a baseball team made of up neighborhood kids — who battle a pretty scary dog to rescue a baseball signed by Babe Ruth - is a favorite among fans of the game and those who maybe also wouldn’t have recognized the Great Bambino’s autograph.

There’ll be a screening of the movie tonight at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix to celebrate its 30th anniversary; followed by a Q&A with some of the cast, including Marty York, who played Alan "Yeah-Yeah" McClennan. The Show spoke with York earlier, and asked if he was a baseball player or fan when he first auditioned for the movie.

Marty York is an actor; he played Alan "Yeah-Yeah" McClennan in the movie The Sandlot. He’ll be among the actors from the film taking part in a 30th anniversary celebration Friday at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix.  The Show spoke with York and asked if he was a baseball player or fan when he first auditioned for the movie.


Full conversation

MARTY YORK: You know, not really, I didn't even really know how to play baseball or, you know, had, had no formal training. I mean, I had grown up playing soccer, actually, I played soccer for about four years. And when I auditioned for the film, the audition for the film wasn't necessarily playing baseball. It was a scene where Squint was talking about the legend of the beast over the fence. And I actually didn't even audition for Yeah-Yeah. Originally I, I auditioned for Bertram, which is another character in the film. And they kind of like, I auditioned for Bertram, I think about three times, they told me I got the role Bertram and then all the guys, they kind of took us all out to a field here in LA and lined us all up.

And the actually guy that taught us how to play baseball was Squint's grandpa Squidman Palledorous I think was his name in the movie. And that was actually our baseball coach. He was the guy that, that trained us how to play. Yeah, I guess he had, you know, a lot of prior baseball experience and so we were playing with him and then they kind of called my, my mom and I aside and said, hey, he doesn't really fit the role of Bertram.

And so we're like, oh, well, this is over and, you know, they, they said we, we'd like him to, read for another role called Yeah-Yeah, it was like a bigger character in the film and they wanted me to have a ton of energy. So my mom took me to, this is the story I tell it all the, you know, autograph signings, me and the guys do, but my mom took me to a liquor store, not, she didn't buy me liquor but she bought me a giant Hershey's bar and she said, eat the whole thing, you know, just to get that sugar buzz going. So I ate the whole Hershey's bar and I went in and the rest is history.

MARK BRODIE: Wow. What do you make of the fact that, you know, 30 years on you and, and some of your castmates are still traveling around talking about this movie and, you know, for a lot of people, this is sort of a, a seminal movie in their childhoods in their lives.

YORK: It's, it's amazing, man. I mean, from just from the 20th anniversary to the 30th anniversary, we just celebrated last year, standing next to Major League baseball players are telling us like you guys are the reason I play baseball and meeting these players and having them, you know, they're hands shaking and, and being like, you know, I'm, I'm meeting guys that make, you know, eight times what I make and, you know, some of the best baseball players in the world and having like Kobe Bryant name his podcast after us.

And just all the things that, you know, and just having, you know, the age range, you know, we, we signed up, me and some of the guys do these Broadway theaters all across the U.S. and I see everybody from 5 years old up to 80 years old show up because that's kind of timeless. It's like the lines of a '57 Chevy. It never gets old. It's a, it's a part of America that I think, and especially in today's age with all the technology and, you know, social media and all this other stuff, it gives you a look back on maybe a time when things were simpler in the world and in America, especially where, you know, instead of digging our phones and, you know, putting our phones all day in a, in a screen, we were outside playing baseball and we didn't come home until the light, you know, the sun went down.

BRODIE: Do you think that's why early is one of the reasons why this movie has endured so much that it's sort of the nostalgia factor.

YORK: Yeah, it's, it's just a nostalgic factor and it's just, I think the '60s when the movie was set just takes people back to a different era where, you know, you didn't have to call your friends or text your friends. You would just ride your bike to their house and you guys would go, go play, you know, and you would have adventures and you would, you actually went outside and did things and lived life and I think, I think we're missing a lot of that in today's society.

BRODIE: Well, so when you're out and about and people see you and recognize you from this movie, what lines do they shout at you?

YORK: It's funny cause I don't, I get recognized in the weirdest places. Like I get recognized a lot in the airport, especially in the Midwest. Like, I'll go to Texas, I always get recognized by at least walking through the airport a bunch of different people. And I got recognized one time at a fast food restaurant. I was going through the fast food thing and the girl goes, I know you. And I'm like, did I go to school with you? She's like, no, you're in "Sandlot." They left everybody from the counter and were like handing me like trays and stuff to sign through the drive through.

People were honking at me behind me and, but yeah, it's, it's different for me than like, let's say Pat Renna who plays Ham, who that guy can't walk, we can't walk down the street with that guy without people driving by yelling, "you're killing me, Smalls" because the guy looks exactly the same as he did when he was like 12. So, I, I like having that little bit of anonymity, walking around and not having to be recognized everywhere I go.

BRODIE: Yeah. Did the fact that you were in this movie, like, how did that impact your, your acting career going forward? I mean, this was, even at the time, this was a pretty well received well-known movie.

YORK: Yeah, I mean, it, I mean, it took off after "Sandlot." I did not really with movies but with, with TV shows. I guest star I was on the whole first season of "Boy Meets World." And then I was on "Saved by the Bell" and "Sliders" and "Wings" and a bunch of like '90s cartoons like, "Hey Arnold" and "Doug." And then, when I was about 17, I got in a really bad car accident after just being burnt out from the industry because I was waking up at 6 a.m. was driving 60 miles one way to Los Angeles while trying to memorize my lines, coming back, going to school, going home, doing my homework and then doing it all again the next day, it was a lot to deal with as a child actor. 

And I left the business for like 20 years. I didn't want to do it anymore, you know, I was burnt out and I got back into it during the 20th anniversary of the film back in 2013. And I got an agent again and started auditioning and yeah, I realized that, you know, this is what I do and yeah, I just, it's, I had the acting bug again, I guess during the 20th anniversary of the film.

BRODIE: So you mentioned that you and some of the other guys from the film, you know, go around and talk about it. Like, what is it like with you guys now, 30 years later? Like is it, does it feel the same with that group? As it did when you were, when you were all kids and filming.

YORK: Yeah, the guys are just the same as they were back in 1992 when we filmed the movie. You know, they're, they all have the same personality still and you know, we're just adults now.

BRODIE: Marty York is an actor. He played Alan "Yeah-Yeah" McClennan in the movie, "The Sandlot." He'll be among the actors from the film taking part in 30th anniversary celebration tonight at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix.

KJZZ's The Show transcripts are created on deadline. This text may not be in its final form. The authoritative record of KJZZ's programming is the audio record.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.