The opening scene of Small Ball: A Little League Story
establishes the enthusiasm the townsfolk of Aptos, Calif. (pop.
9,396), have for their Little League All-Stars. As a runner
heads home and the bleachers erupt, a mother answers her
cellphone and shrieks to the caller, "Honey, I really love you a
lot, but this is really not a good time."
Airing April 14 on PBS, the 85-minute documentary, which follows
the Aptos All-Stars on their quest to make the 2002 Little League
World Series, is warm but not sentimental. Filmmakers Louis
Alvarez and Andrew Kolker were blessed with dramatic on-field
action--Aptos's fate comes down to an at bat by 12-year-old Tyler
Raymond, whose mother, early in the film, says she hopes playing
Little League will boost her son's confidence--but some of the
best scenes take place off it. One dad arranges for batting
practice at the Angels' stadium in Anaheim, and while the boys
seem unimpressed, the adults are awestruck. Throughout the team's
six-week run through qualifying, we see that some moms take their
children's games a bit too seriously, some dads live vicariously
through their boys and most 12-year-olds are less communicative
than their parents would wish. But everyone, including the
viewer, has a good time.