The Battered Bastards of Baseball is one of baseball's last great, unheralded true stories. In 1973, Hollywood veteran Bing Russell (best known for playing Deputy Clem on "Bonanza") created the only independent baseball team in America at the time, the legendary Portland Mavericks. Bing operated without a Major League affiliation while playing in a city that was considered a wasteland for professional baseball. Tryouts for the Mavericks, which were open to the public, were filled with hopefuls who arrived in droves from every state in America, many of whom had been rejected by organized baseball. Skeptics agreed it would never work. But Bing's Mavericks generated unprecedented success: they shattered attendance records, signed Kurt Russell - Bing's son - as a player and team Vice President, produced the most successful batboy in baseball (filmmaker Todd Field), re-launched the controversial career of Jim Bouton, hired the first female general manager in Baseball, and inspired one of America's beloved bubblegums - Big League Chew. The Battered Bastards of Baseball is as much about the independent spirit as it is about baseball. The Mavericks' in your face attitude was contagious to fans, and during their short reign, they - and Bing Russell - basically held up their middle finger to the sports establishment and said we're playing this game on our terms, not yours. They were the real life Bad News Bears.
Todd Field (Himself), Kurt Russell (Himself), Rob Nelson (Himself), Jim Swanson (Himself), Frank Peters, Robert Richardson (Himself), Carren Woods, Jon Yoshiwara, Jim Bouton (Himself (archive footage)), Johnny Carson (Himself (archive footage)), Joe Garagiola (Himself (archive footage)), Joe Garza (Himself), Bing Russell (Himself (archive footage)), Max Patkin (Himself / Archival footage (uncredited))
This film is a very compelling documentary about the little guy tweaking the nose of baseball and getting away with it...kind of. It's about Bing Russell (father of Kurt Russell) and his ownership of the minor league ball club, the Portland Mavericks. But, unlike most other teams, his team was not affiliated with a major league team but was an independent that scraped together players rejected by other teams. And, what shocked the league was that the team was SUPER-successful and set attendance records...and won a lot of games. But, this rag-tag group of castoffs also irritated the powers that be because they had attitude and didn't play the game exactly like the rest. What's next? See the film.
Aside from some music that was too repetitive, the film was amazingly well made--especially since it was made for Netflix. You just don't expect this sort of thing being made for this DVD service!! But, it's well done and will be of interest to everyone--even those who couldn't care less about sports. Worth seeing.
Todd Field: When I think about the Mavericks, I don't really think much about baseball. I think about those guys. I think about those characters, and the fact that they enjoyed themselves more than I'd ever seen grown men enjoy themselves. I remember thinking I hope I feel that way when I grow up. And that was as profound a guiding light as I would ever get.
The sixth Netflix original documentary.
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