Fort Worth’s Little League World Series story will be a movie
Of the many sports stories to emerge from Fort Worth over the past few decades, few were as charming, captivating and ultimately heartbreaking than the Westside All-Stars team that reached the Little League World Series in 2002.
The story has all the required grades for a movie, which doesn’t mean it will be, especially when those most directly involved are wary of the idea.
Coach Jon Kelly wasn’t sure he wanted this to make a movie. “I didn’t want people to say, ‘He can’t let go’,” he said.
One of the players on that team, future Ole Miss quarterback Robert Ratliff, knew he didn’t want this to make a movie. And there is no movie without Robert Ratliff.
The film is about him.
His father, Bobby, was undergoing brutal cancer treatments this season. He delayed treatments to accompany the team when they traveled to Williamsport, Pa.
The team dedicated their season to Robert’s father. The following May, Bobby Ratliff passed away. For the funeral, the boys from the team returned and put on their Westside uniforms.
Almost 20 years have passed and the main players involved have agreed to continue bringing this story to the big screen.
On Thursday night, actor and screenwriter Lane Garrison joined Kelly and some members of the Westside All-Stars team at the Rivercrest Country Club to pitch the project to potential investors for a film tentatively titled, You have to believe.
The first plan, assuming the funding arrives, is to shoot the movie in Fort Worth and have at least one trailer completed by the time the 2022 Little League World Series begins.
Garrison, who played a supporting role in 12 powerful orphans and was one of the writers for the movie, knew the history of Westside and thought there was a movie there after meeting Kelly and his wife last November.
One of the executive producers of 12 powerful orphans, Fort Worth tanker George Young has agreed to participate in this production.
Producer Houston Hill expects them to need to raise between $ 2.5 million and $ 15 million to complete the film. Anything they can collect will determine the cast, and who gets chosen will go a long way in determining how “big” this type of film ultimately becomes.
Garrison, who lives in Georgetown with his wife and daughters, took a little over three months to write the screenplay – one that Robert Ratliff initially didn’t want to read.
“It was too hard to read. It was such a special time and these are the last memories of my time with Dad, ”said Ratliff. “This [Little League World Series] was the last big thing we did together. You want to protect this.
The script uses the race from Westside to Williamsport as a backdrop to detail the story of Ratliff and his father, and the question of challenging the faith.
It’s not meant to be a documentary. There is “Hollywood” in this script.
Ratliff never questioned his faith in losing his father, but Garrison understands that people in this situation often do.
Like Robert Ratliff, Garrison lost his father at a young age to cancer. Her father died when Lane was 20 and her mother had passed away the year before. “I wasn’t 12 like Robert, but I know what it is,” Garrison said.
When the two met to discuss some ideas at the West Central Market in Fort Worth a few months ago, they both broke up talking about their experiences.
Garrison is quick to say that You have to believe is not a Christian or denominational project, although there are elements of that in the script.
It was the first time in over 40 years that a Fort Worth team had reached the Little League World Series. Westside’s 2-1 11-innings loss to Louisville in the semifinals has become an “instant classic” on ESPN.
The film will not be about that. It’s more of a movie about fathers and sons, and family. This is what sold Robert Ratliff, as well as the idea of having a script in hand to one day show his son.
“I don’t mean to say it all gets easier because there are times when you sit down and say, ‘I wish my dad was here,’” Ratliff said. “He could have come over to the parents’ house on the weekends at Ole Miss and been in the field, but none of that happened.”
Ratliff, now 31, works for an insurance group in Fort Worth. Six months ago, he and his wife welcomed their first child, Robert Wyatt Ratliff.
Over a decade ago, Ratliff and his younger brother, John, founded the You Gotta Believe Football Camp, which takes place every summer in Jackson, Mississippi. They had 28 children in 2007, the camp’s first year. Last year they had 352 children.
Kelly said the filmmakers would like to receive permission from players to use their names etc.
“It was the greatest group of kids ever,” Kelly said. “They all went to college and all but one graduated. They have all become active members of society and responsible adults. “
All the elements needed for a movie are present in the race from Westside to Williamsport and the Little League World Series.
It just needed a script, an approval and a lot of money. Along with the three, one of Fort Worth’s most endearing sports stories is set to hit the big screen soon.