‘Battered Bastards’ relives the glory days of sport | ParkRecord.com

‘Battered Bastards’ relives the glory days of sport

Chapman and Maclain Way knew their grandfather, Bing Russell, was an interesting man.

But, the brothers had no idea exactly how fascinating Russell, who played professional baseball for a brief period and also enjoyed a successful acting career, truly was until they were going through some of his old photographs.

"We kind of knew he had this really interesting life," Maclain said. "But, it wasn’t until Chap actually came across a team photo in Bing’s office that really ignited this project."

The photo featured the 1973 Portland Mavericks, an independent baseball team owned by Russell and made up of a ragtag group of players that were castoffs from various other teams. That team would eventually become the Way brothers’ inspiration for "The Battered Bastards of Baseball," which will premiere as part of the Sundance Film Festival’s "Documentary Premiere" program.

As the Way brothers dug deeper and deeper into that aspect of Russell’s life, they knew they had an amazing story to tell.

Along the way, they reconnected with their dead grandfather and also rekindled an interest in sports.

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"We’re fairly big sports fans," Chapman said. "When we came across this story, we realized, ‘Wow, this was a team we would have loved to follow.’ It re-ignited what I felt when I was younger."

For Chapman, who said he sometimes feels disconnected with the world of sports because of the multi-million dollar contracts and athletes constantly changing teams, the Mavericks represented something purer, something that he feels is missing from today’s sports landscape.

"There’s maybe a lack of community and closeness with some of these teams and players today," he said. "Players are going where the money is – there’s not really any allegiance to the city anymore."

But, the Mavericks embraced Portland, shattering minor-league attendance records in the process.

"A lot of the focus on sports teams these days is about the banners they’re able to hang up," Maclain said. "With the Mavericks, there was such a close fan-to-player identity there."

"A lot of these players, it was a second chance for them," Chapman added. "They were rejected from other teams."

And, when watching old footage of their grandfather as he embarked on his adventure of owning a minor-league team, they felt reconnected with the man who lived three houses down from the Way brothers while they were growing up, even though he passed away 11 years ago.

"My favorite part, for sure, was getting that first batch of archival footage back," Chapman said. "It was really a remarkable experience to see this character come roaring back to life."

"The Battered Bastards of Baseball" truly has been a labor of love for the Way brothers the last three years. Maclain, 23, and Chapman, 27, knew they had an amazing story to tell from Day 1. But, they didn’t realize they had a full-length film project on their hands until the stories and photos kept pouring in.

"The more we kept finding out, the more we figured out how amazing this story really was," Maclain said.

Finding former players to interview was no problem for the brothers, who said those involved with the team still regard it as one of the defining times of their lives.

"Everyone involved really wanted to help get this story out there," Chapman said. "Getting people on board was really easy."

Now, the brothers have finished their first-ever feature-length project and are ready to show what they’ve created at Sundance.

"We’re really excited about the end result," Chapman said.

"The Battered Bastards of Baseball" is one of 12 titles in the Sundance Film Festival documentary premiere category and will screen:

Monday, Jan. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at The MARC theater, Park City

Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 8:30 p.m. at the Library Center Theater, Park City

Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at Redstone Cinema 1, Park City

Thursday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Tower Theatre, Salt Lake City

Saturday, Jan. 25, at 10 p.m. at Holiday Village Cinema 4, Park City