I began writing this review weeks ago, but I thought I would wait until after the season to finish and publish it. Mainly, that’s because the World Series is over and the long, hard winter is ahead of us…and we’re all in need of some baseball-related reading to get us through the off-season.
With that in mind, I give my highest recommendation to “Little League, Big Dreams,” by Charles Euchner. If you ever played Little League baseball, and especially if you have (or have had) a child who is (or will be) involved in LL, you need to read this book.
I have a daughter who just started playing tee-ball this year, and a two-year old son who will be old enough to play before I know it. As you can imagine, this is a subject matter that appeals to me.
But it’s more than that. My grandparents started the Little League in my hometown, and the field was named after my grandfather years ago. Recently, a new Little League facility was constructed, and it was named for my family as well. I’ve played, coached, umpired, and simply been a spectator of Little League baseball for nearly my whole life.
The Little League that is described in this book, however, bears little resemblance to the game that I’ve been involved with during my lifetime. “Little League, Big Dreams” is the story of the 2005 Little League World Series, the annual event played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and televised all over the world. I was astounded at the level of commitment displayed by these young players, and their passion for baseball. Of course, as you might expect, the adults made everything much worse.
Euchner spends much time bemoaning what he calls “the professionalization of childhood,” and it’s hard to argue with him.
That said, I don’t want to give the impression that this book is a strict indictment of the Little League Baseball system. Far from it. Euchner revels in the glories of the grand old game played at this level. He gives us a peek into the sheer excitement these kids experience, and the love they have for baseball. Even when the adults try to make it seem like work, the kids just want to play. Sure, they’re playing at a very high level for eleven- and twelve-year olds, but at heart, they’re just kids playing a game. “Little League, Big Dreams” is an enjoyable ride with these kids through the most famous youth sporting event in the world.
The book is outstanding (and a fine complement to Euchner’s previous effort, “The Last Nine Innings,” which we reviewed here at Redleg Nation), and I encourage you to check it out. It’s worth every second, especially if you have children.
Heck, read this book if for no other reason than the appearance by former Red Dante Bichette, who is the coach of one of the teams that qualified for the Series. I mean, come on, Dante Bichette!