Fort Worth Little League makes it to the big screen

The story of the 2002 Fort Worth Westside All-Star baseball team’s journey to the Little League World Series will soon be a major motion picture.

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“You Gotta Believe” was the Westside All-Stars motto.

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Cue “The Natural” soundtrack. An early 2000s underdog story is taking Fort Worth Little League to the big screen. But it isn’t your average “Sandlot” story.

Film producer Houston Hill is making a movie called “You Gotta Believe” based on the story of the Westside All-Stars’ journey to the Little League World Series in 2002.

The origin story

The Westside Little League was formed in 1955 for kids ages 4-12 from River Oaks to Como. Over 45,000 children have played in the league in the past 68 years at Kelly Park.

In 2002, the 15-player team made it to the semifinals of the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, but lost an 11-inning game to the Valley Sports American team from Louisville in a game that became an ESPN “instant classic.”

Hear the now-grown players reminisce about their season in this 2022 documentary.

The major motion picture

Don’t tell Tom Hanks but there might be crying in this baseball movie. The film follows the story of assistant coach Bobby Ratliff, the father of first baseman Robert who came to every game despite his terminal cancer. The Westside All-Stars served as the pallbearers at his funeral a few months after their famous game.

The movie stars Dallas-born actor Luke Wilson as Bobby Ratliff and it won’t be the first Cowtown sports film Wilson headlines this decade. He also starred in the 2021 adaptation of “12 Mighty Orphans,” about a depression-era football coach at the Fort Worth Masonic Home. Greg Kinnear, Molly Parker, and Sarah Gadon will also be on screen as coach Jon Kelly, Kathy Kelly, and Patti Ratliff.

Written and directed by Texas filmmaker Ty Roberts, the movie is currently being filmed in Toronto but may feature some spots in Fort Worth. Post-production is expected to wrap up in January + and a Fort Worth debut is expected around the start of the 2024 baseball season.

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