The Battered Bastards of Baseball
Hollywood veteran Bing Russell creates the only independent baseball team in the country—alarming the baseball establishment and sparking the meteoric rise of the 1970s Portland Mavericks.
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★★★½ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
Like most sports, baseball bores me to tears, so I fully expected to turn this off after a 10-minute courtesy sample. But I'd had no idea that its key figure is Kurt Russell's dad, and soon found myself irresistibly sucked into its real-life Bad News Bears saga, which is chock-full of colorful characters and startling plot twists that any screenwriter would be proud to have invented. Friends of mine who are sports buffs had lukewarm reactions, with one of them calling it overly familiar and another complaining that it's just a random assortment of anecdotes (seemed straightforwardly chronological to me), so maybe it plays better to heathens like myself? All I can say is that I almost never voluntarily sit through talking-head docs, so the fact that I made it to the end of this one should give you a sense of what a fantastic story it tells, at least for those who don't already know it.
★★★★ review by Graham J on Letterboxd
"Yes! But, you can't just say it, man. You've gotta feel it in your blood and guts! If you wanna rock, you gotta break the rules"
The Battered Bastards of Baseball is a warm documentary about Kurt Russell's Dad. Seriously.
If you never knew about Bing Russell and what he did for baseball throughout the 70's, then here is an education.
Being a Brit, Baseball isn't 'my' sport but since a young age i've had a strong affection for it. Through a love of Field of Dreams to A League of their Own and repeated incredible visits to the states in my younger years, I developed a love of American culture and the people. I could never get my head around its football, but baseball has a certain grounded romantic whimsy to it that I found and still find appealing.
I won't spoilt this for those wanting to go in cold like I did, but in essence, it's about the love of the game, it's about rebellion and underdogs, about staying true to yourself and sticking it to the establishment. About a man breaking the rules by doing what is right and for the good of the people.
The documentay isn't powerfully presented, but it's thematically powerful. There is some lovely footage of the games, interesting interviews and a pleasing percussive soundtrack. The whole thing just flows nicely from beginning to end whilst telling a riveting story in the process.
It's on Netflix and well worth your time and if you can name the film the opening quote comes from - you get 10 million points and my eternal respect.
★★★½ review by justinC on Letterboxd
Being the Baseball fan I am I was shocked I had never heard of this important, unique part of the history of the game.
More entertaining that I could have even hoped for.
★★★★ review by Zack Ford on Letterboxd
Short-as-possible synopsis: Documentary about 70’s Portland minor league team filled with old MLB rejects and Kurt Russell.
Short Form Review: Battered Bastards of Baseball is a quick fun documentary with the best name of the year. My enthusiasm as a sports fan was refreshed, because this doc breathes nothing but contagious passion for the sport of baseball, and that is always pleasant.
★★★½ review by sprizzle on Letterboxd
Baseball doesn't have to be boring...
When Bing Russell went after the open Portland baseball market in the early 70s, that's what was on his mind. Not turning a profit or turning out stars for the majors. He wanted to put together a team of solid ball players and give them an opportunity to do what they love.
This is the story of the Portland Mavericks, the first independent baseball club in the country at the time. The major leagues had all but taken over the minor league system and were using the teams to farm players up to the show. Bing Russell was a baseball guy through and through. Well, he was a Hollywood guy too, but it's pretty clear in the documentary that his true love is the game of baseball. Not being able to play the game himself, he wanted to get involved in another vehicle. That led him to start up a non-affiliated team in Portland, called the Mavericks, and hold open tryouts to put together a roster. Now that all makes for a good story in itself...But as it turns out, he was on to something. They weren't just good, they were the best team in the Single A system. They had a better winning percentage than anyone else. The ragtag group of misfits had a blast and led their team to the championship series.
It's stories like this that make you appreciate the America's pastime that much more. There are people out there who simply want to play. On a salary of less than 500 a month, I don't think any of the Mavericks were in it for the cash. This is just a nice little story about people in the city of Portland coming together and having some fun on the diamond. Oh, and it's got Kurt Russell. It's not too bad.
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