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Saturday, July 12, 2014

‘Battered Bastards of Baseball’ review: Portland Mavericks’ story is true to the team’s name

I give it 4.5 Rob Neyer flannel shirts out of a possible 5.

First-time directors Chapman and Maclain Way are the grandsons of Bing Russell, the cowboy actor who founded the independent, minor-league Portland Mavericks in 1973, so “Battered Bastards” is an affectionate family valentine rather than a hard-hitting exposé.  But the Ways’ family connections probably helped convince a number of erstwhile Mavs to sit for interviews, not least of them Bing’s movie-star son Kurt, who rhapsodizes about his dad’s love for the game. The only person more passionate about the team today, it seems, is onetime bat boy (and current Hollywood director) Todd Field, whose profanity-laced nostalgic rants are a highlight….

Reality provided the story of the Mavericks with a somewhat anticlimactic finale, so the documentary runs out of steam a bit towards the end. And some of the recollections are selective. For instance, Kurt Russell tells a story about the Mavericks’ first game being a no-hitter, but he’s probably talking about their sixth game. The Mavericks’ first manager, longtime minor-leaguer Hank Robinson, is given short shrift compared with his successor, Frank Peters, but Peters’ darker, turbulent post-Mavs life isn’t highlighted.

Then again, it probably would have been impossible to shoehorn every memorable Mavericks moment and strange-but-probably-true anecdote into one film. That’s how chock full of stories the team’s brief life was. It might not be true that the Mavericks could only have happened in Portland, but it’s certainly fun to think so.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 12, 2014 at 10:28 PM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball in film, battered bastards of baseball, film, kurt russell, netflix, portland

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   1. winnipegwhip Posted: July 13, 2014 at 07:50 PM (#4749803)
Thanks for the heads up. Watched it this afternoon on Netflix. Really enjoyable.
   2. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: July 14, 2014 at 01:49 AM (#4749863)
Second that. Slightly short on facts, but a great character study.
   3. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: July 15, 2014 at 09:16 AM (#4750540)
Thirded. Watched it instead of the HR derby last night, which was a good call.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 19, 2014 at 05:32 PM (#4754448)
Finally caught this last night. Very enjoyable. They do kinda gloss over the fact manager Frank Peters ended up going to jail - I had to do my own research to find out it was for running an extensive marijuana operation. You could probably do a movie about his character alone. BBRef Bullpen also says he once had each player play every position on the field for a game - they never mention that in the film, but that was kinda interesting.

Bing Russell is the star of the show though and what a personality he is. I'd love to see the complete films he made on baseball instruction. He was Tom Emanski before Tom Emanski!

That field though - wow. I can't believe anyone ever played professional baseball on it. It has to be the worst baseball stadium I have ever see in the United States.
   5. Scott Lange Posted: July 19, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4754456)
Here's Kurt Russell's Baseball Reference page. The reference to him playing for the Mavericks flew by so fast I wasn't completely sure that's actually what they were saying happened.

Fun movie!

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