Little Big League
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|Little Big League|
Little Big League theatrical poster
|Directed by||Andrew Scheinman|
|Produced by||Steven Nicolaides
|Written by||Gregory K. Pincus|
|Music by||Stanley Clarke|
|Cinematography||Donald E. Thorin|
|Edited by||Michael Jablow|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|June 29, 1994|
|Box office||$12,211,068 (USA)|
Little Big League is a 1994 family sports film about a 12-year-old who suddenly becomes the owner and then manager of the Minnesota Twins baseball team. It stars Luke Edwards, Timothy Busfield, and Dennis Farina.
This film and Disney's Angels in the Outfield were both released just over a month before the 1994 MLB Baseball Players Strike, which forced the league to cancel the playoffs and the World Series. Both indeed feature fictional playoff races that never would have been played out in real life.
Billy Heywood (Luke Edwards), a Little League Baseball player, is a pre-teen son to a widowed single mom, Jenny (Ashley Crow). Billy's grandfather is Thomas Heywood (Jason Robards), owner of the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins are a last-place team (though in real life, they were World Series champions just three years prior), but Billy and his grandfather love each other, the Twins, and the game of baseball. When the grandfather dies, it is revealed that he wants Billy to inherit the franchise. Thomas Heywood specified that if Billy is still a minor at the time of his death, his aides are to help him until Billy is old enough to run the team by himself.
Billy quickly runs afoul of the team's manager, George O'Farrell (Dennis Farina). Billy believes he is too hard on the players. O'Farrell despises the idea of working for a kid and balks at a potential signing of superstar player Rickey Henderson much to Billy's frustration. After O'Farrell insults Billy and tells him to butt out of the team's business, Billy fires him.
There is considerable difficulty finding another manager to replace O'Farrell, since no one particularly wants to work for a kid. Billy therefore decides to name himself the new manager after one of his friends points out, "It's the American League! They got the DH! How hard could it be?" He reaches out to the Commissioner of Baseball, who approves after consulting with Jenny. (In real life, for conflict of interest reasons, MLB does not allow team owners to make themselves their team's manager, though the commissioner can grant an exception.)
The players are very skeptical, but Billy promises that if he does not improve the team's position in the standings within a few weeks, he will resign. The team quickly moves up to division race contention. Unfortunately, not all is going smoothly for Billy, as his friend and star first baseman Lou Collins (Timothy Busfield) takes a romantic interest in Billy's mother.
Billy picks up bad habits on the road, and is even ejected from a game and given a one game "suspension" by his mother for throwing a temper tantrum and swearing at an umpire because of a call he didn't like. He also must release his personal favorite Twins player, Jerry Johnson (Duane Davis), who is clearly in the twilight of his career. He ends up making Jerry feel even worse when Billy immaturely tries to illustrate his own distress by pointing out he owns Jerry's baseball card and wouldn't give it up for a Wade Boggs and a Sammy Sosa.
The pressures of managing the team while also fulfilling his other responsibilities, such as schoolwork, wear him down and consume his free time. Billy's friends do not like how Billy's managerial responsibilities are keeping him away from being with them. Even when he's physically present (as opposed to on the road with the team), he is typically distracted by team business.
Lou goes into a slump and the jealous Billy benches him, sending the Twins into a losing skid. Billy later tells his mom that he's tired of being a "grown-up" and decides to quit as manager after the end of the season, even reinstating Lou to starter on first base.
Down four games in the wild card race with four games left to play, the Twins win all four and the first place Seattle Mariners lose all four to force a one game playoff to determine the wild card (in real life, the 1980 Houston Astros won the National League West Division in similar fashion as well as the 1995 Seattle Mariners, who beat the California Angels for first in the American League West in a one-game tiebreaker to make the postseason for the first time in franchise history. ). The Twins face Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Seattle Mariners, with the American League Wild Card playoff spot on the line. With two outs in the bottom of the twelfth inning, losing by a run with a man on base and Randy Johnson pitching. Lou tells Billy he asked his mom to marry him. He says her reply was to ask Billy. Initially, Billy says if Lou hits a homer, he will give the marriage his OK, but quickly relents and gives Lou his consent whether or not he hits a homer.
It appears it's as good as done, but the Twins lose the big game thanks to Griffey taking away Lou's home run by way of a spectacular catch. Billy officially tells the players he is stepping down as manager, with pitching coach Mac MacNally (John Ashton) taking his place as well as bringing back Jerry to be the third base coach and new hitting instructor. (Thereby, implying that Johnson retired as an active player).
Billy reassures all the players that he will still be the owner, and says that he might come back as manager if junior high doesn't work out. He and the rest of the team then receive a standing ovation from everyone in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
- Luke Edwards as Billy Heywood
- Timothy Busfield as Lou Collins, 1B
- John Ashton as Mac Macnally
- Ashley Crow as Jenny Heywood
- Kevin Dunn as Arthur Goslin
- Billy L. Sullivan as Chuck
- Miles Feulner as Joey
- Jonathan Silverman as Jim Bowers
- Dennis Farina as George O'Farrell
- Jason Robards as Thomas Heywood
- Wolfgang Bodison as Spencer Hamilton
- Duane Davis as Jerry Johnson
- Leon Durham as Leon Alexander, 1B
- Kevin Elster as Pat Corning, SS
- Eric Gendreau as Himself
- Joseph Latimore as Lonnie Ritter, LF
- Brad Lesley as John 'Blackout' Gatling, RP
- John Minch as Mark Hodges, Catcher
- Michael Papajohn as Tucker Kain, CF
- Scott Patterson as Mike McGrevey, SP
- Troy Startoni as Larry Hilbert, 3B
- Antonio Lewis Todd as Mickey Scales, 2B
- O'Neal Compton as Major League umpire
- John Gordon as Wally Holland
- Chris Berman as Himself
- Ken Griffey, Jr as Himself
- Randy Johnson as Himself
- Lou Piniella as Himself
- Dave Magadan as Himself
- Paul O'Neill as Himself
- Rafael Palmeiro as Himself
- Ivan Rodriguez as Himself
- Wally Joyner as Himself
- Mickey Tettleton as Himself
- Eric Anthony as Himself
- Carlos Baerga as Himself
- Sandy Alomar Jr. as Himself
- Alex Fernandez as Himself
- Lenny Webster as Himself
- Dean Palmer as Himself
- Tim Raines as Himself
- "Mariners Postseason Results". MLB.com. Retrieved August 10, 2011.