If you’re addicted to feel-good underdog wins despite-all-odds
movies, then The Perfect Game will
resonate with you. The movie is based on
the true story of the 1957 Monterrey Mexico Little League team, who traveled to
the U. S. and served a piece of humble pie to their American opponents.
On average the Monterrey players weighed 35 pounds less, and
stood six inches shorter than their American counterparts. These were
impoverished kids who began their baseball careers playing with a ball made of
string, and bats honed from a board.
They’d never played on a sand and grass diamond, but improvised a ball
field in the parking lot of the local church.
Throw some bigotry into the mix that is the embarrassment of 50′s racism
in America, and you’ll understand why they seemed to be stymied at every turn,
almost being deported at one point because of their expired visas. It’s amazing that they overcame seemingly
insurmountable odds to compete with well – groomed, impeccably uniformed American Little
Leaguers. Baseball, after all, is the
quintessential U. S. sport. How arrogant
of them to think they could beat us at our own game!
One criticism of the film has been that it is riddled with cliches. Yes, you have the washed-up ex staff person
for the St. Louis Cardinals who reluctantly agrees to coach the team, and the
wise and encouraging Padre Esteban played by Cheech Marin (!) who is the boys’ spiritual mentor, and yes,
you have the undercurrent ripple of romance.
But truth is stranger than fiction, and no one would have believed the
improbable story of a rag tag bunch of immigrants who gelled at the perfect
moment and rose to claim a championship.
Just when you’re pinching yourself and thinking this can’t possibly be
true, director William Dear reminds us, by mixing actual footage of the ’57
Little League World Series with close-up shots of the young actors. In the same
vein that you already knew Secretariat
would win the Triple Crown, you can surmise that a movie titled The Perfect Game would end with a
baseball record that stands to this day.
That doesn’t mean you won’t be a Monterrey fan, cheering for them at the
breathless moment of the final pitch.
Boxoffice Magazine had dubbed The Perfect Game “inspiring,
richly entertaining, heartfelt…a perfect family movie. “