By Donnie Collins / Staff writer
It’s going to be a tip of the cap to the greatest summer of his life, and the fact that one of the friends he made during that time is the honored guest at PNC Field will make it all the better.
Tonight, the RailRiders will host one of its most eagerly anticipated promotions of the season when “The Sandlot” Night kicks off before they face Gwinnett at 6:35 p.m. Fans of “The Sandlot,” the classic coming-of-age baseball film directed and co-written by Evans — a Wilkes-Barre native — that is celebrating its 25th anniversary this summer will have little trouble connecting the night’s themes with the 1993 saga of Scott Smalls, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez and the vicious Hercules.
Tickets are available online or at the stadium’s box office.
Not only will Evans be on hand, but the first 2,500 fans through the gates will receive a bobblehead doll depicting the character Hamilton “Ham” Porter, the portly, trash-talking catcher. Patrick Renna, the actor who played Porter, will throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch and be available to sign autographs and greet fans on the concourse.
“I don’t care what they say,” Evans laughed, “I’m taking a pallet of those bobbleheads with me.”
It was Renna, as Porter, who uttered the film’s most famous line — “You’re killing me, Smalls” — which was written by Evans. But the game’s festivities won’t focus solely on Evans or Renna.
The RailRiders have planned a full-on, stadium-wide experience to immerse fans in the Sandlot experience, general manager Josh Olerud said.
At the concession stand, fans can purchase “The Hambino,” a pulled pork, bacon, ham and cheese sandwich named after the Porter character, or an extra-long hot dog known as the L7 Weenie. There will also be a S’mores station, paying homage to the traditional campfire treat that earned a place in the film’s lore.
Fans can also take pictures at a lifeguard chair, which will be placed on the concourse in honor of the object of the Sandlot players’ affection, Wendy Peffercorn. Or, they can take selfies at any of several Sandlot borders around the park.
There will also be several contests. The RailRiders are encouraging fans to arrive at the park dressed as their favorite character from the film, and the team will be operating a running S’mores meter to count how many of them fans can eat before the game ends. Fans who get their picture taken at the lifeguard chair can also enter to win Sandlot apparel that will be given away each inning.
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Hamilton “Ham” Porter bobblehead picture courtesy of SWB RailRiders