GLENDALE, UTAH — There's this magical feeling, and David Mickey Evans has experienced it twice.
In 1992, he was a director making his second movie, this one based on his childhood in the San Fernando Valley, in the days when you played with one baseball until you knocked the cover off, best remedied by wrapping it in masking tape. The story gave Evans redemption against the neighborhood kids who wouldn't let him and his little brother play and against the beast named Hercules on the other side of the fence who gnashed his brother's leg when he tried to retrieve a ball.
"I'll turn them all into heroes," Evans remembered thinking, "and make the ball worth $3 million."
The first time he felt it was days before he began shooting that long summer, when the set was finished and he walked through a hole in the fence and into a three-dimensional dreamland.
The second time was Thursday, when Evans returned to The Sandlot.
He walked up a driveway belonging to a young couple, around a brick fence and back into what he once called a "little baseball kingdom."
"Everything we're standing near," he said, looking around the once-forgotten field in Salt Lake City's Glendale neighborhood, "is exactly where it was. Just on the money."
For the 20th anniversary of "The Sandlot," the classic baseball movie filmed primarily in Utah, Evans has shown the movie in ballparks nationwide.
Friday night, the movie was shown at SpringMobile Ballpark after the Salt Lake Bees game, and on Saturday it was screened on the original field after Bees players conduct a morning clinic for kids.
At The Sandlot, Evans pointed to the new backstop, a careful recreation of the original, designed and rebuilt by a Hollywood production designer.
He headed for the outfield.
"That junction," he said, pointing, "is where the fence went behind the Timmonses house and Mr. Mertle's house. Then . . . that's where the big tree was."
Evans, an intense, lean man with sunglasses propped backward on his shaved head, shook with excitement. He was alone, gliding.
"Over here was the swing-set thing," he said, before changing course and cutting himself off. "And this is where the kid was standing when the thing with the Electrolux blew up."
Since the first tour stop in April, mothers have hugged him. One asked Evans to sign her baby. On this journey across America, Evans is beginning to understand the impact of the little movie he made on a million dollars and a barren field in Glendale.
For 69 years, Jay Ingleby has lived in Glendale. An avid baseball fan and collector, he has watched the neighborhood transform from one where returned soldiers bought two-bedroom starter homes to one commonly associated with gang violence and drugs.
For the past 14 of those 69 years, Ingleby has served on the Glendale Community Council. He's the one who will remind you to water your lawn. He organizes district-wide trash pickup days.
He remembers a different Glendale than the one he looks out on from his modest house two blocks from The Sandlot. "I can't remember the exact year," he said, "but the shopping center was voted the best shopping center in the valley at the time."
Council chairman Randy Sorensen remembers, too.
"Big piece in the paper," he recalled, "said it was 'the premier shopping plaza in Salt Lake City.' "
And near Glendale Plaza, which before it became the Dual Immersion Academy charter school served as the production offices and staging area for "The Sandlot," was a Jerry Lewis Cinema. When the theater opened, Ingleby said, Lewis himself rolled up in a big, black limousine to give a speech.