While doing the Netflix scroll that we are all prone to do, I saw a film called “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” and I will admit that I have swiped left numerous times because the picture didn’t spark my interest. But it wasn’t until today that I decided to actually click on the thumbnail and see what the movie was actually about and I was intrigued because it was about an independent baseball team in Portland. Within the first opening minutes, I was immediately hooked and ended up watching the entire movie in one sitting (very rare these days).
This film not only educates you about how the minor league of baseball works with the AAA and A system, but also gives you a glimpse into the history of Hollywood and the different types of actors there were in the old days. It also heavily featured Kurt Russell and since Miracle is hands down my favorite sports movie, I was down to watch just for him. But besides Kurt Russell, I also felt connected to the former players and bat boys because to this day they still hold a place in their hearts for their former team.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me back track and give you a recap of the film in case you haven’t seen it. “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” is a film that looks at the independent baseball team the Portland Mavericks that played in the single A system from 1973-1978. The team started after the Pacific Coast League team the Portland Beavers left for Spokane. So Bing Russell (father of one Kurt Russell), who was retired from acting at the time, decided that he could easily start an independent team therefore putting his love of baseball to good use. The team was completely independent, which means that they were not attached to any Major League Baseball team. So Bing had completely control over the team and also had to completely fund the team. This freedom gave him control to bring in guys that hadn’t gotten drafted a chance to play and put on the best show in order to get fans into the stands.
And it worked, the Mavericks broke a ton of attendance records because fans were able to get up close and personal with the players. So they took an ownership of the team and Bing made the atmosphere so fun that fans couldn’t help but turn up for every game. It didn’t hurt that because of Bing’s involvement that media covered the team more closely, including getting the big NBC sports show to do not one but two shows on the team.
Taking out the history presented and the education aspect of how minor league baseball works, this film is exceptional at letting the former players, including Kurt, tell their story and recount all the crazy antics that the team did in order to get fans in the stands. You can’t help but root for the guys as they struggled to win a championship, which given on the teams they were facing would send down the best guys right in time for playoffs shows that the major league teams were scared of their talent.
Another reason to love this film is because Bing took on the PCL and actually won when they decided to come back to Portland after seeing the Maverick’s success. Which is so typical of a big league like the PCL, but Bing’s victory over them shows that true passion and heart can win out over the big leagues.
I could go on and on about all the things I love about this film, but instead I’m going to urge you to take 90 minutes out of your day and watch it. I promise you won’t regret it in the least, in fact this definitely falls in the Top 5 of my favorite sports documentaries.