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Nancy Ramsey
April 12, 2004
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April 12, 2004

Under Review

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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.

For fans going through March Madness withdrawal, help is on the way. Fox Sports has begun releasing full-length classic NCAA games on DVD. Among the first releases, which sell for $24.95, is the 1982 duel between North Carolina, led by James Worthy and Michael Jordan, and Georgia, led by Dominique Wilkins. It's a nice reminder that there was a time when a teammate could overshadow Jordan—and a time when Wilkins could dunk something bigger than a tortilla chip.