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‘It was a very surreal thing:’ Coffee shop employee comes face-to-face with favorite child actor

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 4:13 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2021 at 4:33 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Patrick Renna, who played the curly-red-haired catcher in the hit 1993 coming of age movie “The Sandlot,” and is perhaps best known for the phrase ‘You’re killing me Smalls,” left a Waco coffee shop employee who’s a diehard fan of the film in shock when he popped in this week.

Katie Vana, 21, was on the clock at Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Press when Renna, who famously played Hamilton “Ham” Porter, came in with his wife to buy some coffee.

As Vana, a Robinson High School graduate, took his order, she was thinking he looked a lot like her favorite child actor in the film about a boy named Scotty Smalls who moves to a new neighborhood, makes some new baseball buddies, and embarks on a series of adventures.

“I was like ‘Wow! He looks a lot like the guy from ‘The Sandlot’’ and at the end ‘I was like ‘Um, so you look like the guy from ‘The Sandlot’’ and they kind of like giggled a little and I was like ‘Do you get that a lot?’ And he was like ‘it’s me.”’

Katie says she’s watched the movie dozens of times, and like many other of the film’s followers, she has a special affection for Renna’s character, Ham.

“I was kind of freaking out because I was like there is no way that he, the guy from ‘The Sandlot’ is in front of me right now. It was a very surreal thing,” she said.

Patrick Renna played the red curly-haired catcher “Ham” Porter in the hit 1993 film.
Patrick Renna played the red curly-haired catcher “Ham” Porter in the hit 1993 film.(Courtesy photo)

Katie and her fellow employees at the Gaines’ coffee shop aren’t allowed to have their phones with them when they’re working, so she waited until she went on break to approach the actor.

She clocked out and then built up the courage to ask him for a selfie.

The actor kindly said yes.

“We took a selfie, and I was telling him how much I watched ‘The Sandlot’ as a kid growing up and this was literally the craziest thing ever,’ Katie said.

“I’ve never come in contact with a celebrity like that before.”

Patrick Renna and his family at the Magnolia Silos.
Patrick Renna and his family at the Magnolia Silos.(Courtesy photo)

Renna later posted a picture of him and his family next door at the Magnolia Silos with the caption, “Great day with the fam at the silos. Love me some Chip & Joanna!”

Katie says the encounter, like the movie, is something she’ll never forget.

“It was so cool. I will always have the picture,” Katie said.

“It was an awesome experience.”

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