As I have mentioned several times during the blog, I am a HUGE fan of baseball, being from St. Louis and rooting my whole life for the St. Louis Cardinals.
So it suffices to say, when I heard this film was showing at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival, I couldn’t wait to see it! It had already played Tribeca and Sundance to rave reviews! Needless to say, I got sidetracked and attended the screening of another film that was hugely popular. It was only until I was watching LIVE! wit Kelly an Michael and saw an interview with Kurt Russell did I discover all was not lost…I cold catch it on NETFLIX…yaay! So, I did exactly that.
Nowadays, everyone is familiar with The Mavericks, not everyone is as familiar with Bing Russell. Who was Bing? 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 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.
When the PCL (Pacific Coast League) saw the success of a team that “everyone” had written off, they approached Bing with an offer above the traditional offer of $5000 for $26,000. Bing said, “put a “0” between the 2 and the 6 and we have a deal. A massive lawsuit ensued and Bing triumphantly walked away with $206,000…the largest amount of money ever to be be awarded under these circumstances.
If you love baseball, Kurt Russell or you are a fan old westerns…you will love “The Battered Bastards of Baseball“. You can watch it now on NETFLIX.