They were behind in the count, but they took a swing at success and batted their way to victory.
A group of 12-year-olds from the North End surpassed expectations to win the 1965 Western Canada Little Canadian Baseball Championship. Now, their momentous victory is being remembered through the film Behind in the Count, which will be featured in a movie-screening fundraiser next week.
The film screening is set for Weds., Sept. 25 at the Garrick Entertainment Centre at 330 Garry St. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m., followed by a reception. Tickets cost $10 in advance or $15 at the door, and proceeds go to the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre.
Writer and director Don Marks describes the film as a feel-good story made for MTS Video on Demand.
"These are kids that grew up on Pritchard Avenue and Alfred and Selkirk. They’re from the North End. They had to overcome poverty," Marks said.
"The film follows their journey as they go along the trail. There’s a lot of drama. They could’ve lost here, there was a close call there. None of their uniforms matched and they only had two bats. It’s a very inspirational story about being the best that you can be."
Through dedication and plenty of practice, the Canadian Polish Athletic Club team overcame its obstacles to take home the title.
"It builds pride for the North End, so that’s a good thing," Marks said.
"But it’s also a good film to provide role models for the kids and the parents who are going through times now where they want to latch onto positive things, like a sports team or a powwow group or a rock band — anything but a street gang."
As one of the original players, Neil Avery recalls the impact of his team’s big win nearly five decades ago.
"We had guys from the area who had to borrow gloves to play. Some parents couldn’t come to the games, and some kids didn’t know how they were going to get to games. That was the scenario. But we made it happen," Avery said.
"Win by win, we kept moving along and advancing up the ladder. Before we knew it, we did it. It gave us confidence, not only as individuals, but as a team. At that young age, it’s a big deal to win something."
With the help of four current little league teams, Winnipeg production company STRONGFRONT.tv worked to recreate the pivotal 1965 plays.
For producer Jesse Green, the idea for the film hit home.
"I was inspired by the story. You always hear a lot about people growing up in poverty and not being able to participate in sports. It’s a familiar story," Green said. "Kids have it in their mind that you need to have lots of money to do things. You don’t really need lots of money to do things. You need a dream to do things. That’s the message. You’ve got to have the dream. You don’t really need everything else."
For more information regarding the screening, or to buy tickets, call 204-772-6500 or 204-589-2772.