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Shrewsbury, Massachusetts- Baseball is a sport that ingrained in our American culture. Loyalties run deep, rivalries last forever, and the sport never ceases to keep millions of Americans enthralled for over a hundred years. Sports with such a vast history have their share of unbelievable stories and recently Netflix has exclusively released a film documenting one of the most fascinating stories in baseball history.
Before 1973, Bing Russell was only known as the sheriff from Bonanza. That is until he decided to start up an independent baseball team (the first in the entire country) in a town that many considered to be dead for the sport: Portland, Oregon. Holding open tryouts with major league rejects and wannabes alike, the Portland Mavericks were formed and suddenly this ragtag team of players became one of the most acerbic in all of the sport.
The Battered Bastards of Baseball is a stunning documentary chronicling a now under-told story in the history of the sport. From the opening you’re drawn into the dreams of Bing Russell and his quest to make everyone in America love the sport as much as he did. Though Russell is gone, his spirit is shown through testimonials from his son Kurt (yes, Kurt Russell), director Todd Field, and others who shared his passion. It’s hard not to get invested in the tale as the Mavericks as every single player is there for the love of the sport and a love of the game.
That lies at the heart of The Battered Bastards of Baseball. The players on the Mavericks don’t do it for the money or the fame; they do it because they love baseball. Watching old games and footage of this team play and the adoration they get from their fans makes you pine for games to be that fun again. They gave people second chances and were groundbreakers in the sport. They broke the rules, were mischievous, drunken, and threatened the status quo. But God, they were unlike anything that has come before or since.
The Battered Bastards of Baseball is a short, but sweet documentary that takes you on a wild ride. This team and their leader Bing Russell made baseball profitable in a town long since dry. It is a testament to what makes baseball such an enthralling sport. There will never be a team like The Portland Mavericks again and baseball is poorer for it. It is because of that and a stellar presentation that The Battered Bastards of Baseball is one of the most compelling, inspiring and best documentaries of the year.
The Battered Bastards of Baseball is available for streaming on Netflix Instant.