Twelve-year-old Miguel (Michael) Arroyo and his 17-year-old brother, Carlos, live in the south Bronx in the zero of Yankee stadium. The young Cuban immigrants love baseball, specifically Michael. A passionate tiny League player, that listens to every Yankees game on the radio and idolizes a Cuban-born pitcher dubbed El Grande. Michael offers his own strong pitching arm to silver paper a purse-snatching attempt. He access time the thief through a ball and also earns praise from regional authorities. Michael’s arm is so good, in fact, rival little League coaches begin requesting proof that he’s just 12 and eligible come play.

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Michael and also Carlos issue when adults begin asking to speak to their father around a bear certificate. It’s not Michael’s period that’s the problem. The boys can’t let authorities recognize that their father is dead. Papi died of a heart attack several month earlier, leaving lock orphans. They are afraid foster care will separate them unless they deserve to keep their secret until Carlos transforms 18. Carlos works two jobs to assistance the boys. Through the assist of one elderly neighbor, Mrs. Cora, and Michael’s finest friend, Manny, they’ve encouraged everyone the Papi is in Florida caring because that his sick brother. Until now.

Michael theatre ball and tries to continue to be under the radar. Meanwhile, small League officials proceed asking for paperwork. Various other city officials monitor him under as well. Now that he’s helped capture a thief, they hope he and his father will pose through the Bronx Borough president for the newspaper. Carlos and also Michael discover themselves lying an ext and much more frequently come cover their tracks.

The bright clues in Michael’s life is his mysterious new friend, Ellie. She frequently shows up in ~ his games, watches native a distance, then disappears. When he discovers she’s El Grande’s daughter, he grow angry through her for hiding she identity, and also he pushes she away.

As push intensifies for the boys to create their father, they enlist Manny’s uncle — an off-, off-, off-Broadway gibbs — to play Papi. Manny’s uncle manages come fool Mr. Gibbs, a small League official who also works because that the administration of boy Services. This ruse buys the boys part time. Yet without the birth certificate, Michael is forbidden to play ball.

Michael misses Ellie. The waits for El Grande outside of Yankee Stadium before a game and also passes the player a keep in mind for her. As the little League play-offs approach, Michael serves as a basic coach and also supports the team as best he can. During the semi-final game, El Grande, Ellie and Mr. Gibbs discover Michael. El Grande has referred to as his contacts in Cuba and also has situated a copy the Michael’s bear certificate. Currently eligible to play, Michael procedures in and also helps his team win the game.

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After finding out the truth about Papi, Mr. Gibbs takes temporary custody the the boys until Carlos’ birthday. He additionally gives Carlos a job at the administration of child Services. Michael’s team plays and also wins the district last game in Yankee Stadium, surrounded by friends including Mrs. Cora, El Grande and Ellie.