New Baseball Documentary Mentions El Paso Sun Kings
Anyone who is a Netflix subscriber and baseball fan will enjoy the new documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball. It tells the story of the Portland Mavericks, an independent baseball team in the 1970s started by actor Bing Russell. The team was not affiliated with any Major League Baseball club, but they still competed in the Northwest League against affiliated Minor League Baseball teams. The Mavericks were the first independent baseball team ever to play games against affiliated opponents in Class A baseball. Here is the official trailer.
Although not prominently displayed in the film, the El Paso Sun Kings appeared for a brief moment. Before starting the Mavericks, Russell was President of the El Paso Sun Kings, and one of the team’s players was his son, Kurt. Like his father, he had already established himself as a well-known actor, but the younger Russell also had dreams of playing in the Major Leagues. He was hitting .563 early in the 1973 season before injuring his shoulder in a collision at second base. Faced with a 10-week rehab, Bing released his son from the Sun Kings so he could continue acting in the summer of 1973.
Russell did return to baseball later that season with the Mavericks and also made a brief appearance with the team in the 1977 season. However, the documentary did include a old newspaper clip from his brief time in El Paso and also showed Russell in his Sun Kings uniform. The film, directed by Chapman and Maclain Way featured plenty of old baseball footage from the 1970s and lots of interviews with both Bing and Kurt Russell. If you are looking for a good story on how a bunch of journeyman ballplayers from Portland took over the city for part of the 1970s, then The Battered Bastards of Baseball is a must-see.