Those 12-year-old kids from Kirkland who won the 1982 Little League World Series are now 40 and about to get a fresh dose of fame.

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Those 12-year-old kids from Kirkland who won the 1982 Little League World Series are now 40 and about to get a fresh dose of fame.

In fact, they are about to lock up a choice berth in sports archives for perpetuity.

They are the subject of an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary titled “Little Big Men” that premieres Aug. 31. The film is the latest in a much-praised series of 30 documentaries by accomplished filmmakers commissioned to celebrate ESPN’s 30th anniversary with a story from the past three decades.

The stated angle in “Little Big Men” for filmmaker Al Szymanski is an examination of what happened to Kirkland teammates “when the high point in their lives occurred before their lives had really begun.”

Predictably, the focal point of the documentary is Cody Webster. Without Webster as a baseball Mozart, the Kirkland team wouldn’t have been world champions. Without him as an unremarkable adult, it’s a safe bet there wouldn’t be a documentary.

Webster threw a two-hitter and hit a 280-foot home run in the 6-0 triumph over Taiwan that halted Asian domination of the Little League World Series. ABC’s Jim McKay breathlessly told viewers it was “the biggest upset in the history of Little League.”

Webster looked like a can’t-miss prospect that day. If he had gone on to play professional baseball or suffered a baseball-ending injury falling off a ladder, the story wouldn’t be as appealing.

Instead, the flameout of the nation’s youngest national hero is compelling even if it is no great surprise to anyone familiar with youth sports. Webster is hardly the first young phenom who had the good fortune to grow faster than teammates, dominate and then later watch his peers catch up to him. It has happened thousands of times. Webster’s fate was to perform spectacularly on the world’s biggest stage for 12-year-old baseball players and thus be placed on a pedestal to be examined like a lab rat for the rest of his life.

“I was really good when I was 12,” he tells the camera. “I wasn’t really good when I was 18.”

Webster was a 5-foot-7, 175-pound man-child as a 12-year-old who could throw a baseball more than 75 mph. He grew only another four inches.

The documentary shows that Webster wasn’t ready to be a celebrity at age 12. He certainly wasn’t prepared to be the spiteful target of adults who had poison and envy in their veins. He was a sensitive kid who never knew when some parent of an opposing player would call him an obscene name. Once he was even spat upon.

Later, there were some good moments. He was on state-championship football and baseball teams at Juanita High School in the school’s glory years. He headed off to Eastern Washington University to play baseball but a shoulder injury from football provided what the film calls a “blessed excuse” to quit.

Today, Webster is a baseball instructor at a Woodinville sports center where kids pay for sports tutoring. He has coached a select youth baseball team in the Bothell area for years. He is single and lives in Bothell.

“For a long time, I didn’t want to be known as Cody the Little League guy,” he said. “I wish I would have had a pro career and finished the story. It took me a long time to come to grips with it. I’m 40 years old now.”

This writer was there that sunny Saturday and saw Webster’s curveball and fastball intimidate the Taiwanese kids. I saw him launch that home run far beyond the center-field fence. I remember the crowd chanting “USA! USA!” as victory approached. In more than three decades of sportswriting, the triumph remains one of my favorite “I was there” memories.