‘The Battered Bastards of Baseball’ to ‘Benchwarmers’: Our Guide to Baseball Movies

Sad that Game 7 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals concluded Wednesday night as well as this year’s Major League Baseball season? Don’t be. Here are four baseball movies currently on Netflix that will hold you over until Major League Baseball returns on April 6, 2015.

4. “The Benchwarmers” (2006)

From the major leagues to the minor leagues, this 2006 comedy features David Spade, Jon Heder and Rob Schneider as hilarious rejects Richie, Clark and Gus. After Gus finds out that Richie and Clark were robbed of “America’s favorite pastime” while growing up, he coaches them through a game versus the neighborhood bullies. This leads to a series of games in which this adult three-person-team plays against children, coached by their former bullies. With the help of former nerd Mel (Jon Lovitz), these awkward adults inspire the next generation of nerds. Directed by Dennis Dugan (who also directed “Happy Gilmore”), “The Benchwarmers” is silly and unrealistic, an obvious parody of baseball classics like “Bad News Bears.” That doesn’t mean these lovable nerds won’t warm your heart.

3. “The Perfect Game” (2009)

There’s nothing more American than baseball and baseball’s part of the “American dream.” At least it is for Cesar Faz (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Angel Macias (Jake T. Austin). After Cesar leaves the St. Louis Cardinals and returns to his hometown of Monterey, Mexico, he makes the acquaintance with Angel, a 12-year-old boy whose two loves are God and baseball. Cesar reluctantly coaches Angel and his friends, who become the first non-U.S. team to win the Little League World Series. William Dear’s melodrama may be rooted in religion and a little campy, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be cheering for “The Perfect Game.”

2. “Bad News Bears” (1976) 

Watch the original “Bad News Bears” starring Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal. This classic was one of 1976′s top-grossing films and features a memorable ragtag crew of foul-mouthed nine-year-old kids with a bad attitude. The kids are coached by Morris Buttermaker (Matthau), an apathetic washed-up pitcher for Phoenix in the Minor Leagues; he cleans pools and guzzles beers in his spare time. Without any successes, Coach Buttermaker recruits the eleven-year-old daughter of one of his former girlfriends, Amanda Whurlitzer (O’Neal) and the the town’s athletic bad boy Kelly Leak (Jackie Earle Haley). But as the Bears learn, attitude is sometimes better than winning.

1. “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” (2014) 

This 73-minute Netflix original film follows Hollywood legend Bing Russell (you might remember him from the TV series “Bonanza”) and the birth of baseball’s independent team, the Portland Mavericks. Directed by brothers Chapman and Maclain Way, the grandsons of Bing Russell and the nephews of Kurt Russell, the documentary features Bing’s wife, Lou; Bing’s son, Kurt; actor, writer, director and former Portland Mavericks batboy Todd Field; infielder Jon Yoshiwara; pitcher Rob Nelson; left-handed catcher Jim “Swannie” Swanson; pitcher Larry Colton; Northwest and Arizona League president Bob Richmond; and others.

Portland Mavericks manager Frank Peters
Portland Mavericks manager Frank Peters

“Everybody there felt like they’ve been rejected. All of the players felt like they’ve been rejected,” says Mavericks Manager Frank Peters. “And maybe even Bing from Hollywood felt like he’d been rejected.” But these rejects have heart and love for the game.

“I think it’s the American dream just to have the chance to play,” says a younger Peters. “Being a Major League baseball player is not necessarily a worthwhile goal, but being a professional baseball player, I think is a worthwhile goal.”


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