HESPERIA Seventeen years after he last played ball in the Victor Valley, area residents will be able to see Derrin Ebert play again Friday this time on the big screen in the movie "Moneyball" which opened in theaters Friday.


Ebert, a 1994 Hesperia High School graduate, portrays Oakland A's pitcher Mike Magnante.


"A guy I used to play Little League with ... knew the casting director, and the casting director asked him if he knew any guys who used to play baseball," Ebert said by phone Thursday, "because they wanted it to be as (realistic) as possible."


Ebert was one of two former Major League Baseball players in the cast.


The Atlanta Braves drafted him straight out of high school in the 18th round of the 1994 amateur draft. Ebert went on to make his big league debut as a relief pitcher for the Braves in 1999, playing five games.


Today, he teaches high school history in Arizona and coaches a traveling baseball team.


Initially, Ebert thought he would just be asked to play ball in the background of various scenes. However, as the audition process went on, it became clear he was being eyed for a more substantial part, and was asked to act frustrated and throw his glove down on the bench after a bad inning.


" 'What did you do,' " he recalls asking the casting director, " 'look at my resume or something?' "


Once hired, film executives were open to input from the former professional ballplayer, listening to him when he said a locker room scene written by legendary screenwriter Aaron Sorkin didn't ring true.


"A lot of it, they let us ad lib, you know? We'd look at the script, look at what they wanted and do it naturally," Ebert said. "They'd always come back to us and ask us, 'Does this look right?' "


He filmed his parts last year, from June to September 2010.


"There were three parts where I had lines, but only one made it into the film," he said. "There's a lot of parts where I'm present for the scenes, but I don't have lines."


Ebert and his wife attended the film's premiere in Oakland on Monday, sitting in the row in front of Pitt.


"It was absolutely surreal. This was not my world," Ebert said. "The dude is so personable, down to earth and just wants to be one of the guys."


During his time with the Braves, Ebert got used to seeing himself on screen and hearing himself speak in interviews, but actually appearing in a movie was a different animal, he said.


"After we finished filming last summer and had the wrap party, Brad came up to me and said, 'I don't know what you're doing, but you need to think about pursuing this,' " Ebert said. "It would be great if it happened. ... I had a blast. I had so much fun. But I'm a baseball player playing a baseball player in a movie, and everything just naturally happened. You put me in a romantic scene in a movie, am I going to be able to deliver the same thing? Who knows?"


Ebert plans on taking the baseball team he coaches to see "Moneyball" during its opening weekend.