Where Are They Now: Little Big League 20-Year Anniversary
Little Big League is one of those classic sports movies that kids who grew up in the '90s have a particular fondness for. It wasn’t critically acclaimed and didn’t blow up the box office, but that hasn’t stopped us from watching it on cable regularly for the last two decades.
And it really has been two decades. Believe it or not, Little Big League was released on July 1, 1994, which was exactly 20 years ago this week.
One thing that makes this film unique and so inherently likable is the absence of a traditional villain. The whole cast of entertaining characters can be easily broken down into two categories—those who support our flawed hero, Billy Heywood, and those who will eventually be won over by him.
That may not sound like a winning formula, but something about it just works in this movie. Heywood encounters enough obstacles to keep things interesting, and in the end when everyone loves him at the same time, it makes sense because he’s a lovable kid who just wants to make his grandfather proud.
With all that in mind, let’s celebrate the 20th anniversary of Little Big League by taking a look back at the movie’s most memorable characters—and even some of the less memorable ones—and see where the actors who portrayed them are now.
Character: Mark Hodges
Mark Hodges is the Twins catcher who doesn’t warm to Billy immediately, memorably telling him: “If you want a friend, get a dog.” It doesn’t take Hodges long to come around, and he goes from purposefully ignoring signs to defending his young manager on the mound.
Prior to Little Big League, John Minch’s only acting credit was “Hiker” on an episode of the Aaron Spelling prime time drama Melrose Place. And until his roles in two short films in 2013, Minch only scored two jobs in 19 years, probably because he’s actually a baseball player by trade.
Minch played collegiate ball at Ohio State and professionally for a stretch with the Oakland A’s. Today he lives in the Los Angeles area and works for ABC (America’s Baseball Camps).
Character: Thomas Heywood
Thomas Heywood is Billy Heywood’s beloved grandfather and equally beloved owner of the Minnesota Twins. The two bond over a shared love of baseball, and when Thomas dies early in the film, he leaves behind a touching video message for his grandson, not to mention ownership of an MLB franchise.
Jason Robards’ first credited role as an actor came in 1934, which was just the beginning of a career that spanned nearly 70 years. Some of his more recent work includes small parts in films like Philadelphia, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State and Magnolia.
Robards died in December 2000 at the age of 78.
Little League Umpire
Character: Little League Umpire
The little league umpire deferring to Billy's baseball knowledge on a call in the film’s opening scene is the first time we see that this isn’t any ordinary kid.
Allan Wasserman has been working regularly since the late '80s, mostly in bit movie parts and guest starring roles on TV series. In recent years he’s appeared in Arrested Development, Castle, 2 Broke Girls, The Office and ER.
Character: Shelly Hogeboom
Homeroom hottie Shelly Hogeboom approaches Billy and his two sidekicks in the hall for an autograph shortly after he becomes the owner of the Twins. “Shelly Hogeboom, what a babe,” one of the boys says as she walks away, making it clear they’re warm for her form.
That’s the last we see of young Shelly, but one of the sidekicks mentions to Billy later that she’s in the audience during his first game as manager. Talk about piling on the pressure.
Little Big League was the beginning and the end for Cammy Kerrison’s acting career—she never appeared in anything else. These days she’s living in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her husband and two sons. Kerrison Lee is a fan of the Vols, and she either shills for or sells Arbonne cosmetics.
Phil is one of the not-so-bright kids at the playground that Billy easily convinces he is not, in fact, famed manager of the Twins Billy Heywood, but rather some nobody named “Bond…Jim Bond.”
After Little Big League Tony Denman scored roles in Angus, Fargo, 7th Heaven, Go and Angel in successive years. Though he struggled to find work for a while early in the 2000s, in the last year Denman has starred in five movie shorts and appeared in two episodes of a TV show called Nixon’s the One.
Character: Spencer Hamilton
Spencer Hamilton is one of Billy's biggest doubters early on, telling him frankly, “We’re never going to win anything with a kid for a manager.” Like the rest of the guys, Hamilton eventually comes around.
Though he’s been working steadily since Little Big League, Wolfgang Bodison is probably still best known for a movie he did two years prior. He played Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson, one of the two Marines on trial, in A Few Good Men.
More recently Bodison has nabbed small guest spots on TV shows like CSI: Miami, NCIS, Charmed and ER. He has also appeared in several movies—both TV and film—and has a number of projects currently in post-production.
Character: Lonnie Ritter
Lonnie Ritter is a sweet simpleton who is more impressed by Billy than anything else. Early in the movie he tries to explain to his teammates that kids are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for by relaying a story about how impressed he was that kids in Latin American speak Spanish—“a hard language!”
Then Lou “Buzzkill” Collins attempts to explain that’s…just the language they speak…Lonnie doesn’t quite get it.
Little Big League was Joseph Latimore’s first credited acting job, which he followed up with small parts in The American President and Down Periscope. He had a regular role on a TV series called Public Morals, which ran 12 episodes in 1996. Latimore went on to guest star on various cop shows over the years and created and starred in his own Web series in 2010.
John 'Blackout' Gatling
Character: John ‘Blackout’ Gatling
John Gatling is a hot-tempered relief pitcher whose intensity is matched only by his ego. He doesn’t take kindly to Billy, who he affectionately nicknames “rat boy,” questioning his mechanics or taking him out of a game.
Eventually Blackout sees the error of his ways and sheepishly approaches his young manager at the airport, where he concedes Heywood had a point about his mechanics and says, “I guess what I’m trying to say is…you’re not a rat boy.” Awww.
Though he landed a handful of acting roles in the '90s, Brad Lesley is better known as a baseball player. Nicknamed the Animal, he played three seasons for the Cincinnati Reds, one for Milwaukee Brewers and one with the Hankyu Braves in the early '80s.
Sadly, Lesley battled health problems for years and died of kidney failure in April 2013. He was just 54.
Character: Tucker Kain
Tucker Kain is bros with Jim Bowers, the hilarious relief pitcher that steals every scene he’s in. Kain doesn’t get much screen time and may not even have any actual lines, but any friend of Bowers is a friend of ours.
Michael Papajohn has made a nice little career for himself, landing very minor roles in very big-budget movies like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Bourne Legacy, The Dark Knight Rises, Charlie's Angels, Gangster Squad, Transformers, Terminator Salvation and Hulk.
He’s also appeared in all sorts of TV dramas, including a number of cop shows. But for most of us, Papajohn’s most memorable role is, was, and always will be the carjacker who killed Peter Parker’s uncle in Spider-Man. Who could forget that platinum-blonde hair of his? Papajohn reprised his role in Spider-Man 3.
Gullible and prone to shock and awe, Chuck is friendly, almost to a fault, and not nearly as quick to anger as Joey when Billy starts blowing them off. He’s impressed by Billy’s family money and the fact that he owns the Twins, but he’s impressed by most things.
Prior to Little Big League, Billy Sullivan had recurring roles in The Golden Palace and The Man in the Family, both television shows. He also appeared as “Jimmy’s Son” in the Martin Scorcesi classic Goodfellas. Sullivan didn’t work much after 1998, with his last project being Beautiful Loser in 2008.
Joey is definitely second on the totem pole, becoming the group’s de facto leader in Billy’s absence. A born cynic, he’s not terribly impressed by Billy’s family money or the many gifts his friend uses in an attempt to buy forgiveness. Joey is the first to get mad at Billy and first to forgive him after he apologizes.
As a child actor Miles Feulner’s success was extremely limited after Little Big League, and he was out of the business entirely by 1995. Recently Feulner turned up again, unfortunately in a Salt Lake County mugshot. In December 2012 he was arrested for retail theft and possession of methamphetamine.
Lowell is Joey and Chuck’s substitute Billy whom they enjoy torturing for most of the movie, but they eventually realize he’s a pretty cool dude. He’s the one who encourages the boys to forgive Billy for being a self-important blowhard.
Teddy Bergman is currently starring as Alex Chambers in a Web series called Submissions Only. Though he had a few bit parts in television in film over the last 20 years, this has been his biggest role to date.
Character: Mac Macnally
As the Twins pitching coach, Mac Macnally is initially skeptical when Billy tells him he wants to be the team’s manager, but it takes the kid about 30 seconds to win him over in the meeting and the pair become fast friends.
John Ashton’s heyday was definitely the '70s and '80s, when he appeared in TV shows like Dallas, The Rockford Files, Starsky and Hutch, The A-Team and M*A*S*H, and films such as Oh, God, Midnight Run, and Beverly Hills Cop I and II. In recent years Ashton has worked sporadically in bit roles but is currently rumored to be reprising his “John Taggart” role in Beverly Hills Cop 4.
Character: Arthur Goslin
As the Twins general manager, Arthur Goslin could very easily scheme behind Billy’s back and attempt to wrestle away more power for himself, but he doesn’t. Maybe he has too much respect for his grandfather, or maybe he’s just a good person who likes Billy too much to ever consider such a thing.
Either way, Goslin is nothing but supportive throughout the film and seems genuinely impressed by our young protagonist.
Kevin Dunn is actually one of the more successful actors to have appeared in Little Big League. You may not know most of his parts by name, but this veteran character actor has appeared in dozens of big-name TV shows and big-budget movies over the years. Ashton’s recent work includes playing Major Ken Quesada on True Detective and Ben Caffrey on Veep.
Night Nurses from Jersey
Character(s): Night Nurses From Jersey
While on the road trips with the team, Billy can’t resist the temptation of hotel room porn—he even calls up his friends to brag a little and let them listen. His favorite skin flick is Night Nurses from Jersey, which he orders a number of times, much to the chagrin of momma Heywood, who gets the bill.
“Night Nurses From Jersey: They’re off the Turnpike and on duty for love.”
Jodie Fisher and Jodi Russell
Jodie Fisher (the blonde nurse) has only worked sporadically since Little Big League. Her recent work includes a guest spot on NCIS: Los Angeles in 2011 and a small part in Easy Rider: The Ride Back, which was released in 2012 and sounds terrible.
Jodie Russell (the redhead) has worked a little more than her blonde counterpart, but not in anything you’ve likely seen. Russell and Fisher actually both appeared in Silk Stalkings, Fisher before Little Big League and Russell a few years after.
Character: Mike McGrevey
It’s safe to say that nobody dislikes Billy with quite the same gusto as pitching malcontent Mike McGrevey. He doesn’t appreciate being the “laughingstock of the league” or playing for a “circus freak,” and decides to rebel by playing terribly.
Heywood is on to his plan from the beginning and decides the best action is inaction—no benching, no trade. Then he asks pitching coach Macnally what the going rate is for an absent-minded pitcher who can’t get anyone out and the money-grubbing McGrevey finally starts playing like a pro again.
Little Big League was one of Scott Patterson’s first big projects, but he’s worked regularly since then and has had a few pretty interesting parts. In 1995 he appeared as Elaine’s sponge-worthy (well, worthy of one sponge) boyfriend, Billy, on Seinfeld.
Patterson starred on Gilmore Girls from 2000 to 2007 and played Agent Peter Straham in Saw IV, V and VI. Currently he’s got four projects in pre- and post-production.
Character: Jenny Heywood
Jenny Heywood is Billy’s ridiculously understanding and supportive mother. Encouraged early in the film by her father-in-law to consider dating again, the widow Heywood soon allows herself to be wooed by all-star Lou Collins. The relationship initially causes some friction between mother and son, and manager and player, but eventually Billy chills out and (presumably) they all live happily ever after.
Ashley Crow appeared as Sandra Bennet on 41 episodes of the NBC drama Heroes from 2006 to 2010 and Jane Blake in 11 episodes of the TV series The Secret Circle from 2011 2012. Crow has found regular acting work since the late '80s and currently has one project in post-production.
Character: Jim Bowers
In a role that isn’t nearly as substantial as the audience would’ve preferred, relief pitcher Jim Bowers is the unofficial star of the movie. He’s a hilarious prank enthusiast who captured our hearts while explaining the importance of accounting for the wind when dropping a water balloon on crankypants McGrevey.
Later in the film Bowers proves he’s got more than practical-joke ideas in his brain when he successfully solves Billy’s word problem that had so confounded the rest of the locker room.
Prior to Little Big League, Jonathan Silverman was best known as Richard Parker, one of the two self-serving yuppies that dragged their boss’ rotting corpse all over the Hamptons in Weekend at Bernie’s. It was a role he ill-advisedly reprised for Weekend at Bernie’s II four years later.
Although he’s worked regularly, Silverman’s single-serving career is mostly a series of less than memorable guest spots on mediocre television shows. Currently he’s got six different projects nearing completion or in pre- or post-production.
Roberts is the well-meaning security guard just trying to do his job when he almost boots Billy and his friends out of his own stadium. The mistake is quickly rectified, with nobody losing their cool or their job.
John Beasley starred as Barton Ballentine in 22 episodes of the TV series The Soul Man from 2012 to 2014 and as Irv Harper in 89 episodes of Everwood from 2002 to 2006. He also played Don Encalade in Spike Lee’s Treme in 2011.
Beasley, who has been working steady since 1989, currently has one project in post-production.
James was a very small part played by an actor who went on to star in a very big TV series. Take a good look at that photo and see if you can recognize him!
From kid on the playground to Pete Campbell in the critically acclaimed AMC series Mad Men, Vincent Kartheiser definitely paid his acting dues in the '90s before being rewarded a decade later. Although Mad Men was his breakout role in 2007, Kartheiser also had a long-running part as Connor on Angel from 2002 to 2004.
Character: George O’Farrell
The closest thing to a true villain as there is in Little Big League, combative and cranky Twins manager George O’Farrell quickly gets his walking papers after dismissing Billy as just another foreign object stuck in his already irritated craw.
Dennis Farina’s career was far too long and distinguished to do it any justice here, so let’s just say that he was one the busiest actors in Hollywood for over three decades. Sadly, Farina died from a blood clot in his lung in July 2013. He was 69 years old.
Character: Lou Collins
Lovable Lou Collins counts the entire Heywood family among his friends. When Billy appoints himself as the Twins manager, he’s pretty much the only player in the locker room who doesn’t have something sour to say about it.
As the team’s obvious leader, his acceptance and support for Billy is crucial to the kid’s success.
Even if he’s a little wary of it at first, Lou’s relationship with Billy, and the fact that he’s crushing on his mother, is enough to prevent him from expressing it. He even bites his tongue when Billy goes temporarily bananas and benches him for decidedly non-baseball-related reasons.
Even though it’s been more than 20 years and he’s worked constantly ever since, Elliot Weston remains the defining role of Timothy Busfield’s career. He played the character on all 85 episodes of thirtysomething, which aired from 1987 to 1991.
More recently Busfield had a supporting role on NBC’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which lasted one season before being cancelled in 2007. Since then his work has consisted mostly of television guest appearances.
Opposing Little League Manager
Character: Opposing Little League Manager
Though it was a very bit part, the opposing little league manager to Billy's team was played by a very successful comedian.
Comedian Jeff Garlin is currently starring on the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs. In recent years he’s also had long-running roles on Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Garlin has also done voice-acting work in various hit animated features, including: ParaNorman, Cars 2, Toy Story 3 and WALL-E. He is, without question, the most successful actor to have appeared in Little Big League.
Character: Billy Heywood
As if we don’t know who Billy Heywood is by this point. As the protagonist in Little Big League, Heywood inherits the Twins when his grandfather dies unexpectedly. Convinced they have the talent to win, Billy makes the very bold decision to appoint himself as the underachieving team’s manager.
His tenure has its ups and downs but is ultimately successful. Not only do the Twins learn how to win under Billy’s leadership, they also learn how to have a little fun in the process.
Luke Edwards' first big part post-Little Big League was on Undressed in 1999. He played “Mark” in a six-episode arch on the MTV series. Since then it’s been mostly bit roles in TV shows and movie shorts. Edwards’ career has lagged since his first big starring role, but he seems to be enjoying a recent resurgence. He’s completed four projects in 2013 and already has two in post-production this year.
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