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Film / Little Big League

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Major League is about to experience a minor problem...... he's 12-years-old.

Joey: You should start Wedman. He always beats the Rangers.
Billy Heywood: He always beats everybody. That's why he's 3-7.

A 1994 baseball film written by Gregory K. Pincus and directed by Andrew Scheinman. Young 12 year old Billy Heywood (Luke Edwards) is granted control as owner of the Minnesota Twins by his grandfather, who died and who owned the team. Billy initially struggles to relate and find his footing but soon rallies the team into a do or die game to make the playoffs against the Seattle Mariners. Also starred Timothy Busfield, John Ashton, Dennis Farina, Kevin Dunn, and Jonathan Silverman.

Provides examples of:

  • Artistic License – Law: In real life, the team would be held in a trust or conservatorship on Billy's behalf until he turns 18 years old since most of the duties required for owning a professional sports team are illegal for minors to participate in.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: How Billy wins over the reasonably skeptical front office in claiming the managerial spot. He asks Mac to give him a hypothetical late-game scenario vs. the Yankees, complete with who has home-field, who's pitching and warming up, and where the Twins are in the lineup, then proceeds to dismantle Mac in how to proceed through the inning, noting that Mac's strategy actively hurts their chances to win.
    Billy: I'd let Lou hit away. With Mattingly holding Scales, he's got that big hole to hit to.
    Mac: No, see, that's what I'm talking about. It's lefty-on-lefty, Lou's a great bunter, you only need one run, you sacrifice the runner to second with only one out.
    Billy: No; sacrifice him to second, they walk Lonny and bring in Steve Farr to pitch to Spencer, so you've taken the bat out of the hands of our two best hitters, our 3-4 men, and we have Spencer, a righty with no speed, against Farr's palmball, which means—
    Mac: Double play. [thinks] You could pinch-hit for Spencer—
    Billy: Now you've taken the bat out of our three-, four-, and five-hitters; not exactly a great trip through the heart of our order.
    Goslin: Any questions, Mac?
    Mac: Yeah; what does he need me for?
  • Badass Boast: Thomas Heywood, when asked if he is richer than Jed Clampett:
    Thomas: I piss on Jed Clampett.
  • Big Game: Happens when the Twins square off against the Seattle Mariners in a tiebreaker for the final playoff spot.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A bit of a change from what was typical of kids sports films at the time. The Twins try their best, but ultimately come up short against the Mariners, with Lou's long center fly being caught by Ken Griffey Jr. and denying the team the home run. Billy decides to retire for a while as manager, citing the intense strain it's put on his personal life and education. But he's still the owner of the team, makes peace with Lou's relationship with his mother, and the team and the audience give him an ovation on his way out, showing their respect for him.
  • *Bleep*-dammit!!: Happens to Billy as he's cussing out an umpire, complete with his mother learning from said umpire exactly what Billy said to his face. Billy suspends himself (aka is grounded) a game as a result.
  • Book Ends: Billy begins the movie by making the final out of a Little League game and being consoled by family afterward. He ends it by consoling his future stepfather, who has just made the final out of the Twins' season.
  • The Cameo: Many from baseball including: Ivan Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr, Lou Piniella, Mickey Tettleton, and Randy Johnson.
  • Casting Gag: Leon Durham's character is briefly shown missing a ground ball at first base, echoing an infamous error Durham himself committed in the 1984 playoffs.
  • Cavemen Versus Astronauts Debate: Occurs late in the movie over what is implied as a relatively simple math problem.
    Billy Heywood: If Joe can paint a house in three hours and Sam can paint the same house in five hours, how long will it take to paint it together?
    Mac: Now wait a minute, you never said this was a word problem.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: A Running Gag involves Billy's friends pushing for Wedman to pitch more and Billy brushing them off. When the Twins' season comes down to a one-game playoff, Billy goes with Wedman as his starting pitcher.
  • Child Prodigy: Billy possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball history and statistics as well as an understanding of complex strategies not typical of a normal 12 year old.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Billy is a pretty good example of this towards his friends and players at times.
  • Death Glare: Blackout Gatling gives Billy one of these when Billy tries to pull him out of the game.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson were very popular MLB players but were turned into the villains since the Twins had to win or they would miss the playoffs. Griffey Jr. in particular plays a smug, cocky heel for most of the final game.
  • Failure Gambit: Mike McGrevey attempts one, ignoring scouting reports and giving minimal effort in an attempt to get himself traded. Billy points out that he Didn't Think This Through; McGrevey is in a contract year and is sabotaging his own earning potential by pitching poorly.
  • Fish out of Water: Billy is largely considered this, initially anyway, by his ballplayers due to the fact that he's only 12 years old.
  • Glamorous Single Mother: Billy's mother can come off like this to viewers as there are never any mentions of struggles financially or otherwise. Of course, her father-in-law is rich enough to own the Twins so he probably helps her out.
  • Grade-School C.E.O.: Billy, because his grandfather left the team to him.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Nothing supernatural here, but Billy finds the adult responsibilities of essentially micromanaging a Major League Baseball team overwhelming as it cuts into his social life in multiple ways.
  • Motivational Lie: Billy encourages a player who has just committed a critical error with a historical anecdote of Freddie Lindstrom committing a similar error in a World Series game, then delivering the game-winning hit shortly thereafter. Once the player is out of earshot, Mac gingerly points out that the error actually ended the game.
    Billy: I know that. He doesn't.
  • New Meat: Mickey Scales is a young rookie call up for the Twins and earns scorn from the veterans when he expresses approval of Billy taking over as manager.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Mac and Billy have a baseball-ized variation on this one although Mac is more willing to help Billy out as manager.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Happens between Billy's mother and baseball player Lou Collins.
  • Reverse Psychology: A favorite and often utilized tactic by Billy to get players in slumps/struggling to try and improve.
  • Shoot the Dog: Billy makes the heartbreaking decision to release a struggling veteran he has long idolized. Understandably, the player takes it poorly. Examined too, in that Billy's struggles to be professional about it only make the player feel even worse.
  • Shown Their Work: Major League Baseball rules do prohibit team owners from acting as field managers unless the Commissioner grants explicit permission, so the film devotes screentime to showing Billy and his assistants trying and eventually convincing the Commissioner to do just that because they're having major difficulty finding anyone who would be willing to work for a 12-year-old owner.
    • The script shows a deep knowledge of both past and present-day baseball anecdotes and strategy that shows the screenwriter clearly knew the game of baseball.
  • Smug Snake: Griffey, who boasts that he's gonna steal every base, and winks at Billy during a home run trot.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: What happens when a twelve-year-old kid becomes the manager of a baseball team? Even if he's a Child Prodigy who's intellectually equipped to handle it, and even if he does overcome the hurdle of gaining the respect of his underlings, the demands of working what amounts to a full time job quickly start to interfere with his social life and education, and he's not necessarily emotionally equipped to deal with things like one of the players dating his mom, or having to retire a personal favorite player whose career has peaked. He ultimately steps back, remaining owner, but deciding to grow up a little more before becoming manager again, if at all.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Subverted. The Twins lose out on the wild card to the Mariners in the final game.
  • Video Will: How Billy's grandfather informs Billy that he's the new owner of the Twins.