Jack and I watched Little Big Men. This is the nineteenth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 film series.
The documentary looks at the 1982 Kirkland, Washington Little League team that won the Little League World Series. Anchored by a 5' 7" and 175 pound 12 year old named Cody Webster, Kirkland put together a run through the local, state, regional and national tournaments to face Taiwan in the championship game. From 1969 to 1981, Taiwan had won the Little League World Series ten times. During this 13 year period, foreign teams had won the championship in 11 out of 12 years; Only in 1975 when foreign teams were banned had a United States team won the championship. Behind a complete game, no-hitter by Webster, Kirkland beat Taiwan by the score of 6 to 0.
The first half of the film focuses on the team. It includes footage from the championship game. The second half of the film becomes a cautionary tale. Tagged as a superstar, Webster became a media darling. His picture was everywhere, including repeated interviews on local and national television. No twelve year old year is prepared for this kind of attention or can live up to these kinds of expectations. The second half of the documentary looks at the twisting path his life takes over the next 28 years.
The film hit a couple of points that resonated with me. Jack is just twelve years old. He has had the opportunity to play on some good basketball and baseball teams in the last year or two. The point touched on in the documentary that these are just 12 year old kids and they should be enjoying sports is an important one.
This is not a great film; the pacing and the narration are little odd. Nevertheless, it is the only one of nineteen 30 for 30 films so far that I have actually watched twice.
The film is available in iTunes.
My favorites in the series so far include: June 17, 1994; The 16th Man; Winning Time: Reggie Miller versus the New York Knicks; and The 'U'.
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