Twins players more than a little excited to celebrate Little Big League Day
MINNEAPOLIS — The fact that Billy Heywood wore No. 20 isn’t lost on Chris Colabello.
Heywood, of course, was the fictional 12-year-old kid who inherited the Twins from his late grandfather in the movie "Little Big League." After becoming the team’s owner, he later made himself the manager and led Minnesota on a storybook comeback in a film that captured the hearts and minds of children in the 1990s.
Colabello was one of them.
"It’s my favorite baseball movie, I think, in terms of humor," said Colabello, the Twins first baseman. "I think it’s cool because I was a kid who was probably a lot like Billy Heywood. I don’t know if I would have been able to put on a bunt sign, but I think I appreciated the game the same way and knew a lot of the players and knew a lot of situations where you would want to do something or wouldn’t want to do something."
So when Colabello found out that Luke Edwards, the actor who played the aforementioned Heywood, will be at Target Field this weekend to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary, Colabello was excited. The Twins will bring Edwards to town and have Little Big League Day on Sunday. Edwards will be in attendance, and the movie will be shown on Target Field’s screens after Minnesota’s game against Chicago.
Somewhere in between, Colabello and a few of his teammates hope to snap a picture with Edwards, who got to star alongside the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, and Pudge Rodriguez back in 1994.
"When you’re our age, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the business aspect of it. It’s a job," said Twins reliever Brian Duensing. "The movie did a good job of keeping the kid’s imagination into the game of baseball."
While not every player in the Twins clubhouse was as into the movie as Colabello and Duensing, most had at least seen it. Now they’re all on the same Twins team that was depicted in the film 20 years ago.
"Little Big League" came out one year after "The Sandlot" and "Rookie of the Year" in an era that proved to be a heydey for children’s baseball movies. Now some of the kids who grew up watching those movies are major league players. When they get a chance to meet the actors from those films — as was the case last year when two of the actors from "The Sandlot" came to Target Field — it makes them feel like kids again.
"I’d like to get a picture with him," Duensing said of Edwards, now 34. "I got a picture with the guys from ‘Sandlot.’"
"Little Big League" also starred Tim Busfield as Lou Collins, the fan favorite and star first baseman that nearly sent the Twins to the playoffs. Ashley Crow played Heywood’s mother, Jenny, and the late Dennis Farina played ousted manager George O’Farrell.
But it was Edwards’ role as Heywood that made kids watching the movie a bit jealous. What 12-year-old kid wouldn’t want to own and manage his own baseball team?
Along with Edwards, longtime Twins radio broadcaster John Gordon — who had a role in the movie as announcer Wally Holland — will also return to Target Field. Gordon’s character became well-known for his random statistics he’d sprinkle into his play-by-play calls.
"I remember Gordo more than I remember anything, especially after getting to know him," said Twins closer Glen Perkins.
Even this many years later, some of the current Twins can recall their favorite scenes from the movie. For Duensing, one of the classic scenes was when Heywood and some of his players dropped water balloons from their hotel room during a road trip.
Apparently, times have changed since then.
"We don’t do that anymore, unfortunately," Duensing said.
Colabello didn’t necessarily have a favorite scene, but said he appreciated Heywood’s knowledge of the game. He’s hoping to stay and watch the screening of the movie at Target Field after Sunday’s game.
"Movies and baseball are two of my favorite things in the world," he said. "Anything that involves both of them usually is pretty good by me."
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