It’s been more than 40 years since aging, down-on-his-luck ex-minor leaguer Walter Matthau coached a team of misfits.
But even current Little Leaguers — whose grandparents saw the movie when they were kids — knows that the “Bad News Bears” are not exactly the New York Yankees.
There were 2 sequels to the sports comedy. Only 5 actors appeared in all 3. David Stambaugh is one.
His character — Toby Whitewood — is the son of councilman Bob Whitewood, who secretly paid Morris Buttermaker to coach the team.
Stambaugh — whose career began at age 4 (he was in commercials for, among others, Bazooka gum and Tide), and continued with a decade’s worth of appearances on the soap opera “Love of Life” — put all that behind him before he was out of his teens.
“At 15, acting becomes very competitive,” he says. “Especially if you don’t look as cute as you did at 9.”
An avid church youth group member since junior high, Stambaugh attended Messiah College. It’s a Christian school, but he did not want to be a pastor. He majored in communications.
Yet religion was important. So Stambaugh went on to earn 2 master’s degrees, in theology and divinity.
His undergrad major actually came in handy. “I communicated as an actor,” he notes. “As a pastor, I communicate when I preach, and do weddings and funerals.”
He became a youth and young adult minister in New Jersey, then a solo pastor for 5 years at a church on the Shore.
Stambaugh returned to Hollywood — but not as an actor. He got the call from the United Methodist Church there.
However, his family was all on the East Coast. When Stambaugh’s wife was hired as children’s pastor by the First Congregational Church in Guilford, they eagerly moved back.
The minister there introduced him to Jeff Ryder, senior minister at Greens Farms Congregational.
Last month, Stambaugh was ordained as the 307-year-old church’s minister of faith formation. He works with the 8th and 9th grade confirmation classes, and with adult education. He teaches Bible studies, and preaches once a month.
Stambaugh knows Westport’s heritage as an arts community. He’s played drums for years, and looks forward to meeting fellow musicians.
He’s also intrigued that Jason Robards once lived here. Stambaugh was in “The Thanksgiving Treasure” — a 1973 film — with him.
Three years later came “The Bad News Bears” — David Stambaugh’s Hollywood home run.