What the kid from Rookie of the Year looks like today

For kids who grew up in the '90s, the boy from Rookie of the Year was probably either one of their first crushes or the person they aspired to be … or maybe even both. Starring as Henry Rowengartner opposite Gary Busey, Amy Morton, and Daniel Stern in the 1993 flick, 12-year-old Thomas Ian Nicholas portrayed an adorable middle schooler who gets signed to pitch for the Chicago Cubs after a freak accident. But Nicholas nearly missed out on the role. "After my first time I had gotten a new agent and she got me another audition and basically said, 'Well they don't remember you so just try again,'" he told Rolling Stone in 2015. "It worked out the second time."

But whatever happened to him? Did the pre-teen actor go on to achieve Jonathan Taylor Thomas-level fame or was he destined to become a forgotten '90s movie star and fade away into former child star obscurity? Well, it turns out Nicholas has been hiding in plain sight as a multi-hyphenate in show business. Here's what he's been up to lately.

He's been working steadily in showbiz

Critics may have panned Rookie of the Year's slightly nonsensical plot, but the family-friendly baseball comedy became that summer's surprise box office hit. Grossing $56.5 million worldwide, it was a staple in every kid's movie diet, and it encouraged Nicholas to buckle down on his acting dreams. Throughout the late '90s and early 2000s, the Radio Flyer actor continued to work steadily in Hollywood. His more notable gigs at the time included a multi-episode story arc on Party of Five, a guest-starring role on Grey's Anatomy, and the lead role in A Kid in King Arthur's Court. He also starred in, wrote, and directed 2004's indie film L.A. D.J.

Nicholas credits his mom's support for the longevity of his career, telling Fox News in 2018, "She was definitely the grounding force in my life and career. [She] never let me get to the point where I would take myself too seriously or let me have a big ego." He added, "Life was pretty normal outside of what I was doing," noting that he always saw his home life and acting career "as two separate things."

You might've recognized him in American Pie

Six years after Rookie of the Year hit the big screen, Nicholas landed his next big role as Kevin Myers, the best friend of Jason Bigg's Jim Levenstein and on-and-off boyfriend of Tara Reid's Vicky Lathum in 1999's American Pie. The popular teen sex comedy has since grown into a multi-million dollar franchise, so the actor is naturally keeping his fingers crossed for yet another installment. "The fifth American Pie has been written," Nicholas, who reunited with Reid in the 2017 Syfy movie Trailer Park Shark, told Fox News. However, he added, "And as far as I know [it] has been sitting on a shelf in Universal collecting dust for the last five years."

To this day, Nicholas remains as synonymous with American Pie as he does with Rookie of the Year. While some movie stars might become a little jaded for being known for just a couple of roles, the Red Band Society actor has happily embraced it, telling Rolling Stone, "I am not mad. I am ecstatic that both of those movies still resonate with kids."

He turned to music

Nicholas may be best known for his acting chops, but he's also a skilled musician who's gone on to pursue a steady music career with the aptly named Thomas Nicholas Band. "I grew up listening to classic rock until discovering grunge when I was in junior high," he told The Canton Repository in 2018. He added that the likes of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters inspired his own '90s alt-rock sound, which was first heard on the singer-guitarist's debut album, Without Warning, in 2008.

Over the course of a decade, Nicholas has released six albums, toured often, and even had one of his songs, "My Generation," featured on the soundtrack for American Reunion in 2012. Luckily, certain flexibility in the actor-musician's schedule has allowed him to manage his music career with his film prospects. "I've gotten really lucky," he told Pop Entertainment Blog. "I usually plan [shows] out in between jobs. When I'm shooting a movie, it's maybe a month, or three months. There's plenty of time in between to tour." 

He's (sort of) a real-life Henry Rowengartner

About two decades before the Chicago Cubs finally broke their 108-year dry spell with their famous 2016 World Series win, Nicholas played a major role in bringing every die-hard Cubs fan's dream to life on the big screen — so, he's naturally a fan-favorite. "I've been involved and been a fan of the Cubs ever since I filmed on Wrigley Field for an entire month back in 1992," the actor told The Canton Repository. "I've been going to games since 2008, and I'll throw out the first pitch." After he leads the seventh inning stretch with a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," Nicholas said his band then plays "across the street."

The warm welcome he receives from the team's devoted fan base isn't something Nicholas takes for granted. "It's still such a big deal to me, man," he told Rolling Stone. "I hold so much good nostalgia for Wrigley Field and the Cubs."

Did he turn down Tiffany Haddish?

We have to admit we did not see this one coming: Nicholas has a history with none other than comedian Tiffany Haddish. In her 2017 book, The Last Black Unicorn, the Emmy winner recalled how the two met as teens and danced together while working a party for the actor's brother, who goes by DJ Timbo. "At the end of the party, I asked him for his number," the Girls Trip star wrote, before claiming, "He told me I was a weirdo, and he didn't give it to me. I had been too aggressive."

Of course, it wasn't long before the anecdote made waves on the internet — but Nicholas remembers things a bit differently than his old pal. "Yeah, that didn't actually happen," he later told New Orleans' WGNO. "I'm gonna have some words with Tiffany," he jokingly added, before explaining, "I did a number of parties with Tiffany, so I don't think I ever called her a weirdo." 

Luckily, there are no hard feelings, as Nicholas rationalized, "You know, she's gotta have like a funny quip to it. I mean, she's a comedian, and she's a funny comedian, at that."

He's taken on roles behind the camera

If Nicholas isn't acting or touring with his band, he's most likely keeping busy working behind the scenes as a writer, producer, and director through his production company, Red Compass Media (via AXS). At the time of this writing, the multi-hyphenate's more recent films have included Living Among Us, which featured one of late actor John Heard's final on-screen appearances, and the upcoming film adaptation of Lani Sarem's controversial fantasy book, Handbook for Mortals. Nicholas, who's an advisor for StreaMe, also revealed to Variety that he'll begin streaming and monetizing much of his self-made content through the digital entertainment upstart in 2018.

"I love being creative and that's my driving force," he told Fox News. "I do whatever I can to stay in that creation space, whether it's acting or producing or writing or playing music." Explaining that's he's "trying to be a modern-day Renaissance man," the actor added, "I love the process of creation and I really love entertaining people."

He channeled Walt Disney

Just behind Rookie of the Year and American Pie, Nicholas' most prominent on-screen gig was his portrayal of Walt Disney in Walt Before Mickey. Unfortunately, the 2015 indie flick was panned by critics, earning only a 20 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "Few visionaries are as fascinating as Walt Disney, so it's particularly frustrating that this drama is so uninspired," a reviewer wrote on Common Sense Media. "It seems more like an adaptation of a student's book report than a compelling look at one of the most influential men of the 20th century." Ouch.

Despite its tepid critical reception, Nicholas told Pop Entertainment Blog that the opportunity to play the pop culture icon was "amazing" and "a complete honor." Already an avid Disney fan, the role even led him into new terrain in his decades-long career: fan conventions. Ever since the film's release, Nicholas has often been spotted at Wizard World cons, where he naturally holds Disney trivia contests.

He got hitched

In 2007, 27-year-old Thomas Ian Nicholas tied the knot with 32-year-old Chicago-based musician DJ Colette (real name Colette Marino). "She hadn't seen [Rookie of the Year] before we met, to be honest with you, which was kind of strange," he told Us Weekly in 2018, jokingly adding, "It's probably why I married her, actually." The couple welcomed son Nolan River in October 2011 and daughter Zoë Dylan in April 2016. And their eldest is already following in his proud dad's footsteps, having made his acting debut as Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson's on-screen son in the series finale of New Girl in 2018.

While Nicholas' family life undoubtedly keeps him super busy, it sounds like he's perfectly happy striking a balance between being a hands-on dad and doting husband while maintaining his multifaceted career. "I have two kids. … My wife, Colette, is a touring DJ," he told The Canton Repository. "So between producing films, acting in them, raising kids, and playing music, it's non-stop action with very little sleep and a lot of coffee." 

Is there a sequel in the works?

When Rookie of the Year celebrated its 25th anniversary in July 2018, Nicholas remained as hopeful as ever for the possibility of a follow-up flick. "I've been pitching [20th Century] Fox," he told Us Weekly at the time. "But they're kind of saying not right now, on the idea of doing a long-awaited sequel." 

Still, that's not to say that plot ideas weren't already floating around. "So my idea for where Henry would be now is … that he would have a son who would befall the same fate and would be drafted by the Cubs," the actor explained to the magazine. And Nicholas already has the perfect actor in mind to play the role, as he shared, "I would hire my son to play my son who's following in my footsteps."

The studio may not be totally on board yet, but Nicholas is determined to one day make the film's sequel a reality. Inspired by the trend of reboots in film and television, he even told The Canton Repository, "I think I'm gonna kind of disrupt the system and try to get it going with a crowdfunding campaign."

He's busier than ever

Thomas Ian Nicholas has come a long way since hitting the pitcher's mound in Rookie of the Year. At the time of this writing in 2018, he's not only enjoying one of his most prolific years yet, but he's also accumulated an impressive net worth of $3 million. According to his IMDb page, the actor is set to portray Hollywood icon Martin Scorsese in the James Franco dramedy Zeroville, appear in the vampire horror flick Nosferatu, and produce and star in a number of films through his production company, including Bitcoin and a comedy aptly called Stealing Tom Nicholas. "I have a couple other projects in development," he told The Canton Repository in February 2018. "And we're on the heels of our films, The Lost Tree and Living Among Us." 

While speaking with Tulsa World, Nicholas couldn't help but compare his career trajectory with that of his most famous on-screen alter-ego's, saying, "I started acting when I was 6. Much like Henry, I experienced my childhood dream during my childhood." Luckily for both Nicholas and his fans, this multi-talent has managed to keep that childhood dream alive for decades.