In the 1970s, Portland was still a largely rural city, not the hip, urban destination parodied on Portlandia. It was also a place filled with die-hard sports fans. So, when their local Triple-A team, the Portland Beavers, left for Spokane in 1973, Portland’s baseball fans weren’t happy. That year, the Portland Mavericks, a new Single-A team under the ownership of actor Bing Russell, took their place. Unlike every other minor league team at the time, the Mavericks were independent, with no affiliation to a Major League club. The team was filled with a rowdy, ragtag group of players that included Bing’s son, actor Kurt Russell. Though the Mavericks only lasted five years, their impact on baseball and the city of Portland resonated long after they left town.
The story of the Portland Mavericks is now a documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, which premieres on Netflix this Friday. We’ll hear from the film’s directors, Chapman and Maclain Way (grandchildren of Bing Russell) along with former Mavericks pitcher and Big League Chew founder Rob Nelson.