The ‘Little Big League’ film’s ties to the Senators

June 7, 2018 (updated July 2021):

The film “Little Big League” from 1994, directed by Andrew Scheinman, has a definite Washington connection. The premise of the movie is that a 12-year-old, played by Luke Edwards,  inherits the Minnesota Twins from his long-time owner/grandfather (modeled on Calvin Griffith and played by Jason Robards Jr.). The grandfather tells of how as a youngster he saw Walter Johnson pitch. The Twins GM is named Goslin, hardly a coincidence. And, of course, it is the Twins, nee Senators.

Although I’m sure most folks see this as a kids film, I consider it one of the best baseball movlittle-big-league-originalies ever. Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., Lou Pinella (did you know he was a Nat in the spring of 1963?) and other big leaguers at the time play themselves. Kevin Elster and Leon Durham are Twins players as members of the cast. (On a 2021 Mets broadcast, Keith Hernandez claimed he was asked to play a role in the film, but like Elster and Durham, was supposed to be part of the fictional Twins team rather than playing himself. Never much on modesty, Hernandez declined.)

Billy Heywood, the 12-year-old owner, is dismissed and insulted by the manager who was hired by his grandfather. (A Bill Haywood — slightly different spelling — pitched in 14 games for the Senators in 1968.) The manager is played by Dennis Farina (who you may have seen on TV in the original  Law & Order). So Billy fires Farina and makes himself the manager.

Ashley Crow, who plays Billy’s mother, later had a son who became the Mets’ top draft pick in 2020: Pete Crow-Armstrong.

“I love that movie, regardless of my mom being in it,” the young outfield prospect told the Los Angeles Times about watching it growing up. “It’s a great movie.”

In the film, the Twins are in a one-game playoff for a post-season berth. Their third baseman lets a ball go through his legs, which allows the go-ahead run to score. The young manager sits beside him on the bench and tells of how in the 1924 World Series, a ball got by the third baseman and a run scored. But when that player got up in the bottom of the inning, he got the game-winning hit.

After the Twins player gets in the on-deck circle,  the much-older pitching coach tells the kid that the ball that got by the third baseman in 1924 let the winning run score (in game seven,  giving Washington’s A.L. team its only World Series triumph.) The kid manager says to the coach, “I know that. He doesn’t.” Just one of many funny scenes in an under-rated baseball film.

(See Earl McNeely, World Series Hero

— elsewhere on this site.)

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