Kevin Costner’s Durham Bulls. Charlie Sheen’s Cleveland Indians. Walter Matthau’s Bad News Bears. Wildly rambunctious baseball teams that became beloved cinematic all-stars. But they were no Portland Mavericks, the real-deal franchise that grabbed minor-league baseball by the short hairs in the mid 1970s.
In the Netflix documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, directors Chapman and Maclain Way turn back the clock to 1973, when their grandfather, Hollywood actor Bing Russell (Bonanza), purchased the Class A Portland franchise and fielded a completely independent team against a league of teams stocked with Major League Baseball prospects. He held open tryouts and recruited cast-offs who were looking for second—or last—chances to make it the big leagues. “It was just a wild-ass ball club of wild-ass guys,” says Russell’s son, Kurt, the famous actor. “They were very serious about playing and they wanted to have the opportunity to show those clubs that had let them go that they had made a mistake.”
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