The independent spirit is alive and well, with Justin Lin (the Fast & Furious franchise) fighting off interest from DreamWorks, Columbia Pictures and Fox Searchlight to acquire the rights to remake The Battered Bastards of Baseball, which screened to great acclaim in the Documentary Premieres section of the Sundance Film Festival on 20 January. Todd Field – who has a personal connection to the subject of the film – is now in talks to write and direct.
The Battered Bastards of Baseball details the rise of the Portland Mavericks – the only independent baseball team in America in 1973, when it was set up by Bonanza actor, and father of Kurt, Bing Russell. Many of the players for the team were rejected or retired from Major League baseball, but their independent team proved naysayers wrong by smashing attendance records and launching careers. Kurt Russell himself became a player and Vice-President of the team, while the career of former Major League pitcher Jim Bouton was entirely rehabilitated. The team also became the first in baseball to hire a female General Manager.
It is the Portland Mavericks successful batboy that may well guide this from documentary to narrative on the cinema screen, however. Academy Award nominee Todd Field (In The Bedroom, Little Children) joined the team in 1976, as a 13 year old “outfield shagger” – retrieving foul balls during games. In 1977, he was promoted to batboy and spent a summer on the team bus, having a pivotal life experience. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Field explained the importance of getting the tone of the film just right:
“It would be a great movie if you could get it right. If I were to make it, I wouldn’t want to sanitize it, you know? It’s not a Disney movie. There’s a huge amount of heart and a lot of love that was within that team obviously, but it wasn’t a polite situation. Bing would come back to haunt anyone who would make a Disney version of the Mavericks.”
With the documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball having been directed by Chapman and Maclain Way – grandsons of Bing Russell – and Portland Mavericks batboy Todd Field considering helming duties on the remake, it looks like we can expect an even brighter future for this Sundance success story.
Source: The Film Stage