Learned About “Los Pequeños Gigantes” (314/366)

“We didn’t even know Williamsport existed … we were just [supposed] to play a game in McAllen.”
~ Jose “Pepe” Maiz

This morning, Nick and I were surfing Netflix to find something to watch while at the Kids’ house.  The little one was napping and we were sitting down to lunch.  We all still have not had enough baseball, so we were thinking of watching A League of Their Own (awesome movie), but then a film called The Perfect Game caught Nick’s eye, so we watched that.  It was about a Little League team from Mexico, who started out in a dirt field playing with a homemade ball, and ended up winning the Little League World Series.  Great story, right?  Well, turns out it was true.

In the mid 1950’s, in the industrial town of Monterrey, Mexico, a group of boys got together and decided to play baseball.  They had never been to a Major League baseball game before, but loved listening to the professional games re-broadcast in Spanish on their local radio stations.

In 1956, Monterrey was granted a Little League franchise, and in 1957 they crossed the border – on foot – towards McAllen, Texas, where they were to play their first game of the championship tournament.  They expected they would lose and return home quickly, but they ended up beating the Mexico City team (which was made up of sons of Americans working south of the border), and kept on winning.

They won the rest of the regional and state tournaments, won the Texas State Championship, and just kept winning.  Along the way, their visas even expired (they really thought they were just going to play one game and come home!), and the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico had to intervene to keep the team in the country to play.  They had little money, were tired, and counted on the kindness of strangers for meals at times.  After defeating the teams from Biloxi, Mississippi, and Owensboro, Kentucky, to win the Southern Regional Championship, they earned a bus ride to Williamsport.

Little League officials in Williamsport gave them new uniforms with “South” embroidered on them (International competition was so new, the boys played representing the Southern region in the World Series), but the uniforms were too large – most of the boys on the other teams outweighed the Monterrey boys by about 30-40 pounds and were about six inches taller!  The team from Monterrey decided to continue wearing their own uniforms.

For the World Series game, Angel Macias, an ambidextrous pitcher, was on fire.  Pitching only right handed, with the exception of a ball lined foul in the first inning, Macias sent batter after batter back to the bench, hitless.  His La Mesa counterpart Lew Riley was doing well keeping Monterrey from scoring as well, until the fifth inning when he walked the first batter, and then the second made a perfect bunt to get Monterrey on first and second with no outs.  Jose Maiz was up next, and smashed a double to center, scoring the first run of the game.  Monterrey went on to score 3 more runs after that, giving them a 4-0 lead with the final inning coming up (Little League games end after six innings).  Along the way, the crowd began to shift from backing the American team, to cheering for this spirited, special team from Monterrey.

With two outs in the sixth inning, Angel Macias threw three balls, then came back with two strikes to the La Mesa batter.  For the next pitch, Angel threw a curveball, which was swung on and missed, and the crowd exploded.  Angel Macias had just pitched the first Perfect Game in Little League World Series history, capping off an amazing World Series journey and win by the first international team to win it all as well.

To this day, Angel Macias’s Perfect Game remains the only one pitched in Little League history.

Here’s a bit of video footage from the news story.

It was so fun and inspiring learning about “Los Pequeños Gigantes,” the Little Giants, as they came to be called (although their town had ties to and an affinity for players on the Brooklyn Dodgers).  If you have a chance, see “The Perfect Game” and definitely read more about them.  Vamos, Gigantes!

Related Links:
The Perfect Game film on Amazon
“The Little League World Series’ Only Perfect Game” article on Smithsonian.com

Comments
One Response to “Learned About “Los Pequeños Gigantes” (314/366)”
  1. Ying says:

    I couldn’t really hear all the dialogue when we were at the Yows’ so I streamed it at home and I watched it again with Tom. Great story!

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