The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Who knew? Larry King can't get enough of his kid's Little League games

July 8, 2010 |  1:12 pm

Larry_king When Larry King announced his retirement the other day, he said one of the key reasons for hanging up his CNN suspenders was to give him time "to get to the kids' Little League games." I suspect that a lot of cynics assumed King was just using the usual "I want to spend more time with my family" as a way of deflecting attention from the real reason -- his increasingly lousy ratings.

But as it turns out, King is a devoted Little League dad, especially when it comes to keeping an eye on Chance, his 11-year-old son who was the starting pitcher last night for the Beverly Hills Little League 11-year-old all star team when they took on the 11-year-old all stars from West L.A. Little League. My son and his pals play on West L.A.'s team, and even though I highly doubt that any of them are devoted viewers of King Larry (as Lady GaGa has dubbed him), they all knew he was some kind of media big shot, so they were definitely up for a chance to hit against his son.

Those of us in the stands were keeping a close eye on King for other reasons. He's become something of an infamous character in Little League circles after a 2008 incident when he was coaching his son's team and was reportedly booted out of a Beverly Hills game after a prolonged argument with an umpire. In fact, when the umpire of Wednesday night's game heard some Beverly Hills fans loudly complaining about a close call at the plate, he issued a stern warning to both stands, but there's no evidence that Larry was involved in any way. (Later in the game, the ump ejected a Beverly Hills coach for gruffly grabbing his player after he was thrown out at third base, but Larry, who apparently isn't coaching anymore, wasn't involved in that incident either.)

After our boys knocked Chance out of the game (we went on to win, 15-7), I went over to say hello, since I'd had lunch with Larry a few years ago when I was doing a story about how he regularly moonlights as a film critic, often getting blurbed in studio ads for his unfailingly enthusiastic reactions to almost any movie, good, bad or awful. I introduced myself, eager to hear more about his post-CNN plans, but Larry kind of gave me the brush-off. He told me that Chance "just didn't have it tonight -- you didn't see him at his best," before quickly walking away. Maybe he was a little dejected about his son's pitching. Or maybe he just didn't like my story about his film blurbs.

Who knows? Even though Chance got banged around pretty good, he's got solid pitching mechanics, a nice fastball and could have a real future as a pitcher. ("A phenom in the making!" as his dad might say.) I bet we'll see him again on the all-star circuit. With Larry available for even more coaching time in the future, I guess you could say his future is limitless.

Photo: Larry King shaking hands with New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira at a Dodgers game last month.

Credit: Mike Nelson / European Pressphoto Agency