Fans of the AMC television show “Mad Men” may not know that main star Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper in the show, is a “diehard sports fan.”
Hamm was charged with the task of hosting this year’s ESPY Awards, formerly known as ESPN’s Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards. On Thursday afternoon, Hamm took a break from filming his upcoming movie “Million Dollar Arm” to talk to reporters from around the country, and fielded questions about sports, the awards ceremony and his new film.
Even though he is an avid sports fan, particularly of the St. Louis Cardinals, his acting has “hindered the ability” to go to as many games has he’d like. However, he said he has been able to participate in many sports festivities, like playing third baseman once in St. Louis.
“It’s nice, obviously, to have that access (to different sporting events),” he said.
The St. Louis Cardinals are “number one in my heart,” Hamm said, with the St. Louis Blues hockey team coming in as “1A.”
Hamm was always a sports fan, and was a three-sport athlete in high school where he played football, baseball, swam competitively. He said he is still friends with some of his classmates from high school as well.
“I hated to work out,” Hamm said, so playing sports was a fun way to get exercise for him
According to Maura Mandt, executive producer of The ESPYs, a host must have an appreciation for the sports world and just be a fan of sports all-around.
The host “needs to have the knowledge and appreciation for what happened this year in sports,” Mandt said, adding that it is difficult finding the right person for the job, however she said Hamm has those qualifications and more to bring to the awards ceremony.
“Jon is a perfect fit,” Mandt said.
Hamm isn’t a stranger to performing in front of a live audience. He has hosted “Saturday Night Live,” and was a presenter at past ESPY awards programs.
“This is an opportunity to do something fun (for something) I am truly passionate about,” Hamm said to reporters. He added he wasn’t very nervous about hosting, and laughed it off by saying “I have never had a problem with standing up in front of people and making a fool out of myself.”
Hamm said the ESPYs will be different from “Saturday Night Live,” as it is a time to “celebrate the achievements of athletes,” and what they have done.”
He said he hopes to bring the “innate charisma” that past presenters of the ESPYs have brought, and overall wants the night to go well.
When asked what his favorite sports film was, the actor couldn’t pick just one and started listing movies like “Caddyshack,” “Bull Durham,” “Miracle,” and more.
“I’m a fan,” he said.
Hamm is finishing up his film “Million Dollar Arm” which is based on the story of when baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates signed Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, both from India. Hamm plays a sports agent. The film is expected to be released next year.
The ESPYs will air live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 17, at 9 p.m. on ESPN.