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Eric Sondheimer

Hoechlin Plays Parts Well in This Dual Role

March 13, 2005|Eric Sondheimer

There's nothing ordinary about the teenage life of Tyler Hoechlin.

Mornings, he's filming his role in the WB Network series, "7th Heaven." Afternoons, he's the starting third baseman for Corona Santiago.

It's a balancing act between acting and playing high school sports that few successfully pull off, but Hoechlin has done so well that USC and UCLA are recruiting him as a baseball prospect.

What's harder to believe is that he continues to live in Corona and commutes 65 miles to the "7th Heaven" studio in Santa Monica, then returns for baseball workouts.

His one-way drives can take from one hour to three hours, depending on the traffic. Like LeBron James' mode of transportation as a high school senior, Hoechlin drives an H2 Hummer, which he bought for himself.

If he weren't a 17-year-old actor and high school student, he could be a radio traffic reporter with all his expertise on freeway road conditions.

"It's a little crazy," he said. "I don't get too much sleep. I'd rather be overly busy than completely bored."

"7th Heaven" shoots from July to early April. Hoechlin is an independent study student during the fall semester, then attends regular classes in the spring.

Once the baseball season begins, the TV production crew tries to help him by shooting his scenes in the morning.

However, he had to miss a game Wednesday because of his acting commitments.

Hoechlin refuses to give up acting or baseball, and for good reason. He excels in both.

He played Tom Hanks' son in the 2002 movie, "Road to Perdition." He's in his second year of "7th Heaven," playing the role of Martin, the son of a Marine who is also an outstanding high school baseball player.

"It's kind of like a rush," he said of acting. "Your heart pounds so fast. It's fun to perform and play a character."

Hoechlin doesn't need any stunt double for his baseball scenes. As a sophomore last season, he batted above .400 in helping Santiago reach the Southern Section Division II semifinals. With eight returning starters, the Sharks could win a championship this season.

The 6-foot Hoechlin has good speed and handles his position well. He had three hits last summer at the Area Code tournament in Long Beach, one of the most prestigious competitions for high school players. This season, he's four for seven with seven runs scored.

"He's very instinctive and aggressive and isn't afraid to take chances," Santiago Coach Ty DeTrinidad said.

Hoechlin comes from a sports family that has grown up competing in baseball leagues for years in Corona, which is why they have been reluctant to move closer to Los Angeles and the entertainment industry.

Hoechlin understands that his future in baseball and acting could be out of his hands.

"You figure they're the two most unpredictable professions," he said. "Your entire future is dictated by somebody else. You have scouts who will tell you if you can go to the next level. Then casting directors will cast you for movies.

"Baseball has helped me with rejection from acting, and acting has helped me with rejection from baseball. I get used to accepting failure and move on."

To show how torn Hoechlin is between acting and baseball, he can't answer the question whether he'd prefer to win an Academy Award or a most-valuable-player trophy in the major leagues.

"Geez, that's the hard one," he said. "I've had that question before and can't make up my mind."

What he's grateful for are his abilities in both fields.

"My whole family said they'd find a way to make it work," he said.

*

Eric Sondheimer can be reached at eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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