July 27, 2014

Remember the Portland Mavericks? I’m embarrassed I don’t

Frankly, I’m embarrassed.

I was born and raised in Portland, Ore., and yet I must confess I knew next to nothing about the Portland Mavericks, a short-lived, independent baseball team that occupied Civic Stadium for five seasons.

The Portland Mavericks’ home opener in 1973.
That was until I saw a new documentary about the team on Netflix called The Battered Bastards of Baseball, which fondly recounts the team, its players, manager and most of all the owner, Bing Russell, who injected his own kind of zany fun into the Mavericks.
The movie was an eye-opening experience for this Oregonian. 
Here’s what I learned:
-Owner Bing Russell: Not only was Russell a baseball nut, including shooting his own home movies about how to play the game with his son, Kurt, he also was a longtime character actor best known for his role as Deputy Clem Foster on the TV show Bonanza.
-Pitcher Jim Bouton: Bouton, the once-heralded New York Yankee who later fell from grace and then showed another side of baseball in his book, Ball Four, resurrected his career with the Mavericks.
-Director Todd Field: Academy Award-nominated director Field, who directed In the Bedroom and Little Children, was the team’s batboy.
-Kurt Russell: That’s right, folks. The man who brought us, Snake Plissken, played on the team.
Attendance: The Mavericks drew 125,000 fans to 33 home games in 1977.
The other great thing about this doc is the footage of Civic Stadium in all its run down, ratty glory. It had the turf, the terrible dugouts, the bench seating and the outfield walls were covered with billboard advertising, including the unforgettable image of the 3-D Jantzen swimwear ad. 
That’s the Civic Stadium I remember. What’s it called now? It’s named after some hospital organization, and before that, it had one of the more ridiculous names in sports because it was named after a window and door manufacturer in southern Oregon that didn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
It’s also no longer home to baseball. The Portland Beavers returned to Portland after the Mavericks left, and some form of baseball, mostly AAA, would be played there through the 2010 season.
Now, it’s home to soccer and once again the Portland Timbers, who also used to play in Civic Stadium when they were part of the original North American Soccer League.
So Portland has its Timbers again, and its hipsters, and foodies, and strippers and some place downtown that is known for its doughnuts, although they seem pretty ordinary to me. There’s also a TV show that apparently has put the city on the map, but whose popularity totally escapes this former resident.
Was Hello, Larry so bad?
–Rolf Boone

Photo credit: The Oregonian, via Wikipedia

May 4, 2014

Jack Ramsay, who won title with NBA’s Blazers, dies at 89

Jack Ramsay, the longest tenured coach in the history of the Portland Trail Blazers and who led the team to its only championship in 1977, died last week after a long struggle with cancer. He was 89. NBA Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay What a loss, and what a shock to learn that cancer finally... Continue Reading »

March 28, 2014

Remembering the Twins’ Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett, who patrolled center field and played his entire 12-year career for the Minnesota Twins, would have been 54 this month. His birthday was March 14. But Puckett, a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2001, died in 2006 at the much-too-young age of 45 from a stroke. His life following the game was tragic,... Continue Reading »

February 15, 2014

Twins GM Terry Ryan announces he has cancer

Godspeed, Terry Ryan. Ryan, the longtime general manager of the Minnesota Twins, recently announced he has cancer after doctors discovered a cancerous lump in a lymph node in his neck. This is not an obituary. Ryan’s cancer reportedly is very treatable, but if he should step away from the game, just as he did in... Continue Reading »

January 10, 2014

Pitcher Jack Morris belongs in the baseball hall of fame

Better luck next time, Jack Morris. Morris, the longtime starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who also spent one incredible year with the Minnesota Twins, failed to gain entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week after spending 15 years on the ballot. I was sure he was going to get in this year... Continue Reading »

December 31, 2013

The ‘homerdome’ is going, going, gone

The state of Minnesota and the sporting world said goodbye to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on Sunday, the often ridiculed dome with the air-supported roof hosting an NFL game (the Minnesota Vikings actually won) for the last time before it is demolished to make way for a new home for the Vikings. Hubert H. Humphrey... Continue Reading »

December 24, 2013

Twins finally spend a little money on free agents

If the Minnesota Twins, my favorite baseball team, fail to produce a winning campaign in 2014, I can at least look back to the off season of 2013 and say they tried. That’s because the Twins, not historically known for big free agent signings, appear set to reverse the losing ways of the past three... Continue Reading »

October 1, 2013

Twins extend contract of longtime manager Ron Gardenhire

As I posted earlier, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire’s baseball card might not have much value, but his managing does, the Twins agreeing this week to extend his contract for another two years. Of all the stories I read about Gardy’s new deal, I couldn’t find a single one that mentioned details of his salary... Continue Reading »

September 21, 2013

Valuable card or not, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has meant plenty to team

I recently called Dugan’s Sports Cards in west Olympia to inquire about the value of team manager baseball cards.Yes, the card for an older, more famous manager like Casey Stengel would have some value, I was told.How about one of longtime Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire?I don’t think so, said the man on the phone.Thus... Continue Reading »

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Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.