Park City, January 17th, 2014. The City of Roses features prominently in a documentary about Kurt Russell’s father called, “The Battered Bastards of Baseball”.  In 1973, during a time when the Beavers were not playing in Portland, Hollywood actor Bing Russell jumped at a chance to organize the only independent minor-league team in the country. Facing skepticism from a city that had been hoping for an actual major-league team and starting from scratch without any players, Russell held open tryouts for any has-been or never-will-be. “He put this team together of misfits, a ballclub made up a bunch of crazy individuals,” says Bing’s son, Kurt Russell, who co-owned and played for the Mavericks. “There’s never been another ballclub like that.”
Bing’s grandsons, Chapman and Maclain Way, were inspired to co-direct the movie after uncovering old Mavericks memorabilia at their grandparents’ house, like the team photo that features players wearing backwards uniforms and guzzling beers (see below).

Bing’s grandsons, Chapman and Maclain Way, were inspired to co-direct the movie after uncovering old Mavericks memorabilia at their grandparents’ house, like the team photo that features players wearing backwards uniforms and guzzling beers.

BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL Kurt Russell in uniform for the Portland Mavericks

Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell

The Sundance Film Festival premier of the film om January 20th will also feature a family reunion. Kurt will attend the festival with the film’s directors: Bing’s grandsons Chapman and Maclain Way.

Meanwhile, Kurt’s son Wyatt will be at Sundance as a co-star in Cold in July, as will his stepdaughter Kate Hudson for a movie called Wish I Was Here.

Russell’s wife Goldie Hawn, who is Wyatt and Kate’s mother, will also attend the festival.

Here’s a link to the facebook page if you want to become a fan.

Baseball and Hollywood have always been dueling passions for the Russells — both father and son played minor-league ball — and both are at the heart of The Battered Bastards of Baseball, a documentary premiering at this week’s Sundance Film Festival.

The brothers knew Bing had led an amazing life, beginning with being a kid bat-boy for the legendary Yankees teams of Joe DiMaggio and extending to his long acting career in Hollywood and television westerns. But the more they dug into the Mavericks history, the more they found a story full of fascinating characters.

But what made the Mavericks story most compelling was that they immediately became a huge success. Not only did they win — beating other teams stocked with big-league prospects — but new fans flocked to the ballpark in record numbers. “What Bing saw was, ‘Well, if I don’t affiliate with a Major League team, then I can do whatever I want and I can hold on to my players all season and fans will actually get to know them,’” says Maclain. “So I think he actually turned his independent status into a huge advantage.”

“They shattered all the minor-league attendance records,” says Chapman. “Bing made it a priority to really entertain these fans and make it for the common person to come off of work and go to a cheap baseball game and get great entertainment.”

The independent enterprise would last five wild seasons, in which the Mavericks won their division four times. Organized baseball took notice of the Mavericks’ box-office success and quickly returned an affiliated franchise to douse the independent spirit from spreading, a drama the documentary details.

If the motley crew of ragtag players and the David-versus-Goliath plotline sound like the perfect sports movie, then you won’t be surprised to learn that Hollywood has expressed interest. “There have been a number of people who wanted to do something with the Mavericks story, and I won’t be surprised if it’s talked about in the future,” says Kurt. “But the idea here was simply two grandsons finding out about their grandfather. I’m really glad that they did it because I’m really anxious for my family to see this because they’ll have a much stronger picture of where I come from, of who I come from.”

The Battered Bastards of Baseball premieres at Sundance on Jan. 20. The Festival runs Jan. 16-26.

Here’s a bit of history about the Portland teams: The Portland Beavers minor-league baseball team of the Pacific Coast League played at the stadium from 1956 to through 1993, and again from 2001 to 2010. From 1973 to 1977, the stadium hosted the minor league baseball Portland Mavericks, and 1995 to 2000, the Portland Rockies. The stadium hosted the USFL’s Portland Breakers, as well as the Portland Storm and Portland Thunder of the WFL.

Soccer has been hosted at Jeld-Wen since the original Portland Timbers were founded in the original North American Soccer League in 1975. Various iterations of the team have called the stadium home, including the 1980s version in the Western Soccer Alliance and the 2000s version in the USL First Division before the MLS club was formed.

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