ST. LOUIS — The rest of the world knows Jon Hamm as an Emmy-winning leading man dazzling on the silver screen out in Hollywood.
But in his hometown of St. Louis, we know him as the worn-out-Blues-hat-wearing John Burroughs alum who never misses a chance to shout out his city.
5 On Your Side sports director Frank Cusumano sat down with Hamm over Zoom for this week's Sports Plus Sunday Conversation to talk about his life in Hollywood, his love for St. Louis sports, some high school memories and even some movies he could see himself in.
Athletics have always been a big part of Hamm's life, dating back to his days at John Burroughs, where he graduated in 1989. He was on the football, baseball and swim teams, and was a decently gifted talent on the football field.
"I had a pretty good frame. I ran about 195 and about 6-foot-1 in high school which was pretty big for a 2A school. We didn't have the growth hormones they put in milk and eggs these days, so we were sort of normal-sized back then," Hamm chuckled.
Nowadays, Hamm still finds a way to get his fix from his playing days. It's just a little bit different on his men's league softball team.
"I think I've done what most catchers do when they go to die. I go play first base now," Hamm said. "I'm closing in on the big 5-0 here, so I've got to watch out how many times I kneel down especially in a men's league where half of the crowd is under 30."
Back in his Burroughs days, Hamm's family became close with another famous St. Louis family, that of National Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Simmons. And the Hollywood star is still close with the baseball legend and his family to this day.
"Growing up their family was very close with mine. Their oldest son John was my best friend growing up. We went to school together at John Burroughs," Hamm said. "I played in a fantasy football league with Ted and his wife and all the kids and I came in last. So I'm very proud of that."
Even if you're somehow not familiar with his work in entertainment, if you're a St. Louisan, you at least know Jon Hamm as "the famous Blues fan". He has pretty much taken that mantle and run with it.
Hamm was there with the rest of the city as the Blues made their run to the Stanley Cup in 2019, and like the rest of us, felt the weight of such a long wait finally come off.
"It doesn't really have a parallel. I have so many disappointing memories of being in the old area, or the Kiel Center or fill in the blank of all the iterations of arenas they've played in over the years," Hamm said. "And us being the favorites and a bad bounce of fluky goal happening, so to have all of those things go our way one year was pretty spectacular."
And Hamm is pretty fired up about what the Blues are trotting out there in 2021 as well.
"I'm very excited for their season. I think they've got a lot of hungry young guys in that locker room. I think O'Reilly is really going to be a good guy to wear the C. I hope Vladdy comes back to 100%, because we've seen when he's 100%, as we saw in 2019, he's dangerous," Hamm said. "I think we're all going to miss Pietrangelo, I think Krug's a good hire. I wish we could've kept 27, but that's the nature of the beast these days. It's a shame to see him go to such a close competitor like Vegas. I think this team's going to have a lot of potential to make a lot of noise."
As for the Cardinals, Hamm (like most of St. Louis) isn't quite as bullish on their championship chances, but knows with this franchise you can never count them out.
"If the pitchers pitch and the hitters hit, we could be scary. But we didn't seem to have that confidence that we had in years past," Hamm said. "So maybe another year of seasoning will do it. But I'm always hopeful, I'm a Cardinals fan."
Of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Hamm's Hollywood schedule, but he has a few exciting things on the horizon, including a reboot of the popular "Fletch" film series that starred Chevy Chase back in the 80's.
"It's not so much a remake as sort of a reboot of the whole series," Hamm said of his "Fletch" project he's hoping to begin working on in May.
Something closer on the horizon for Hamm fans is the Top Gun sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick", which is set to release in July of 2021.
"It's going to leave a lot of people with their minds blown I think. I got the good fortune to see it over the summertime. They opened a theater for us and we all had to sit 15 feet apart and wear masks and everything, but we got to see it on the big screen, which is the right way to see it. It's really visually stunning. And I think people are going to be moved by the story as well," Hamm said.
What about sports movies? Is there any sports movie Hamm wishes he could be in, or an idea he wishes would make its way to the big screen?
"I'd love to see The Natural again. Or be in The Natural. That was one of my favorite movies growing up. It's a great book and it's an amazing, beautiful film Field of Dreams is another one. But of the current stories, I think there'd be a great movie in the St. Louis Blues' 2019 run from worst to first. And I think obviously I'd have to play Jordan Binnington, just because I'm so young and limber," Hamm laughed.
He may be at the top of the film and TV industry now, but just like a prospect making his way up the ranks, it wasn't always easy for Hamm. Moving to the bright lights of Los Angeles from St. Louis took a while to figure out. But once he did, he ran with his opportunities.
"I certainly hoped I had a shot. Coming from St. Louis to LA is pretty much a quantum leap in market size not to mention competition. And I remember the first 7 or 8 or 20 auditions I went on thinking, the numbers are too vast for me to overcome," Hamm said. "But after a while you kind of settle in and understand like anything else. You learn the ropes, and you come to believe in your confidence and self worth. And for me it took about three years, which I think is pretty average, honestly. I think I gave myself a realistic goal and I was fortunate enough to meet it."
But at the end of the day, Hamm knows how he wants to be thought of in his hometown.
"He's a good St. Louisan. He's a proud St. Louisan. I think there's a lot to be said for pride of place, especially in a place like St. Louis," Hamm said.