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Little League, Big Dreams Hardcover – August 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.; 1 edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402206615
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402206610
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,201,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even those with only a passing interest in baseball will be intrigued by this fascinating look at Little League, "the largest amateur sports organization in the world." The book and its unsparing look at the harsh reality of youth sports just might pique the interest of parents whose kids play in the more than 8,000 officially sanctioned League teams. Utilizing extensive interviews with current and former players and coaches and a no-frills sports writing style that captures both the excitement and the nuances of the game, Euchner (Last Nine Innings) follows teams ranging from Hawaii to Florida who competed in the 10-day 2005 Little League World Series. Throughout his exhaustive coverage, he rarely loses sight of the League's main problem, "the professionalism of childhood, the development of leagues and tournaments that turn sports into a fulltime job before a kid grows any facial hair." Euchner succeeds at presenting the impressive intensity of 12-year-old athletes while also showing the sad fact that young pitchers who could be Major League stars "never make it because they blow their arms out in Little League." (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In The Last Nine Innings (2005), Euchner put major league baseball under an analytic microscope; here, he dissects Little League. The setting is the 2005 Little League World Series, which turned out to be a real nail-biter and one of the most exciting series the small town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, has ever seen. Although Euchner admits that Little League has done good things for kids and baseball, his overarching argument here is that kids were better off with street pickup games than the overly organized, overly competitive world of formal Little League. Moreover, he contends that the sport has become too focused on adults: it's the adults who crave the championships, who push kids beyond their physical capabilities, who take the fun out of the game. He gives coaches (and parents) their due--the sacrifice of time and money, after all, is mighty--but he challenges us to consider what the world would be like if all that energy were put into more altruistic endeavors, such as rebuilding the Gulf coast. "Give the game back to the kids," Euchner pleads. Adults, take heed. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Charles Euchner, the author or editor of nine books, is the owner and operator of The Writing Code.

Euchner's newest book is Nobody Turn Me Around (Beacon Press, 2010), an intimate account of the 1963 March on Washington. Based on more than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of archival materials, Nobody Turn Me Around offers the only complete study of the only moment when all of the factions of the civil right's movement gathered in one place, a day capped by Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" oration.

Euchner is also completing a book called The Writing Code. Building on his experience in colleges and universities -- at institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Holy Cross, and Northeastern -- Euchner offers a sure-fire system to improve writing for high school and college students, journalists and academics, and corporate and nonprofit professionals.

Euchner's latest books -- both published in 2006 -- explore baseball from its highest to lowest levels. The Last Nine Innings provides a dramatic narrative of the seventh game of the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees.Little League, Big Dreams looks at the revolution in youth sports through a portrait of the 2005 Little League World Series.

Until June 2004, when he stepped down to satisfy the demands of his writing career, Euchner was the executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In that capacity, Euchner coordinated a wide-ranging research agenda on urban and regional politics and policy, conferences and other events, training programs for public and public service fellowships for graduate and professional students.

Euchner edited the Governing Greater Boston Series, served on numerous advisory committees, and contributed to newspapers and magazines on issues facing the region.

Euchner has written widely on public affairs. His most recent book on politics and policy, coauthored with Stephen McGovern of Haverford College, is Urban Policy Reconsidered: Dialogues the Problems and Prospects of American Cities (2003). That book has won praise for its comprehensive and even-handed approach to complex issues. The book has been praised not only by scholars of urban affairs but also by practitioners as diverse as Michael Dukakis, the three term Massachusetts governor and 1988 presidential nominee, and Steve Goldsmith, the former Indianapolis mayor and domestic policy advisor to George W. Bush.

Euchner's research has focused on the grassroots level of politics. His book Extraordinary Politics: How Protest and Dissent Are Changing American Democracy (1996) provides a critical analysis of the causes, strategies, tactics, and effects of outsider forms of politics in the U.S. Playing the Field: Why Sports Teams Move and Cities Fight to Keep Them (1993) was the first book to question the economic and political arguments for building sports stadiums.

Prior to entering academe, Euchner was a staff writer for Education Week, the nation's newspaper of record for elementary and secondary education. At Education Week, Euchner covered the federal government, teachers unions, state education policy, and computers in education.

Euchner received his B.A. from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nicedawg on September 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book on the inner happenings of Little League Baseball. I really enjoyed the candid assesments of how parents and managers go overboard. The book though is not a bashing of the little league faults - it gives inside looks at what happens at williamsport and the teams...I really enjoyed the stories about the ugly rivalry between California and Florida and how Dante Bichette Sr. got out of control - also the stories about Curacao and Japan and how serious they take the game - the stories about the pitcher's not resting their arms and getting major injuries is a wake up...

Finally, the story centers on Hawaii and how they built their team swithcing from Pony to Little League - and how they practiced so hard - 6 days a week! Great stories about Little league baseball and how Travel teams are so much better and talented (cooperstown baseball)...

if you enjoy youth baseball - you'll love this book
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Format: Hardcover
When I was a kid I pushed myself to play baseball. When looking back on it, I see a different perspective of kids and coaches who are both pushing and being pushed. As someone who has played at Williamsport and competed in regular Little League I thought I had seen all that it had to offer until I earned some money umpiring it as a teen.

For a large chunk of my life I played spring and fall baseball (fall was for the hard-cores, spring the middle ground and summer the lightweights[except all-stars at 11-12]} in youth baseball), and occupying my off season with camps and practicing I understand that there are limits to what children should do. At the same time I have trouble with pitch counts when I probably threw an average of 200+ pitches a day for years with no problems whatsoever.

The weird thing looking back on it is that no one pushed me but me. Reading about kids being pushed by coaches and coaches by parents doesn't ring as true with my experiences playing. Unfortunately it rings true with the experiences I saw umpiring. Parents were the worst. I almost had to call a forfeit once because of parent behavior in a championship game for eight year-olds when an ejected parent was hesitant to leave.

The truly insightful sections of this book dealt not with the players, coaches, or parents but the other aspects. The commercial nature of the Series, the impact Little League has had on the way baseball is played and the competition Little League has from other organizations. The travel team system when discussed makes this book worth reading by itself. How competing leagues like the Cal Ripken League are threatening the dominance of Little League is interesting unto itself.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on October 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
This will be a perfect book for my little brother, who loved baseball so much when we were kids that he decided to up and move to Cooperstown soon as he got himself mobile.

Maybe if he had read it back then, he would have change dhis mind and moved on down to Williamsport, PA, the city that by some freak chance became the site of the annual Little League World Series. Charles Euchner paints the area in lavish descriptive terms, nestled in the shadow of the Alleghenies and with a beautifully preserved old downtown area, though one that's sadly underpopulated due to increased globalism and outsourcing of manufacturing and sales. No wonder the populace are all so into their annual event which draws hundred of thousands of spectators.

Euchner describes the origins of Little League and takes us to a meeting of the very first Little Leaguers at a local restaurant where the oldtimers gather every year to eat and swap stories about working with the original inventor, Carl Stotz.

He's an interesting reporter, though sometimes annoyingly vague: "Newsreels produced by the maker of the classic film 'Lost Horizon' carried an account of the second tournament in 1948." Does this mean that Frank Capra filmed the newsreel? If not Capra, then who? There's nowhere to turn because the book hasn't been footnoted.

Euchner makes an impassioned plea to dismantle the Little League by showing how it has turned a generation of kids into little monsters who live for the camera and don't care about moral issues like steroids. Based on the deep sampling of kids interviewed, they think steroid use is cool. Anabolic steroids helps players do better and get on TV more, that's the bottom line. There are no child stars, and yet Little League coaches and parents put such pressure on the kids that they wreck their arms before they reach puberty. It's a grim story of greed and ambition, and yet, by the end, you'll be waving your ball flag high.
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