Many actors that were teen sensations spend their early 20's doing whatever they can to lose the image they had established in their adolescent years. Many take edgier, more adult roles while others seem to just disappear for a while and then hope to come back. Kurt Russell, teenage Disney heartthrob and later the man who it seemed like the action-comedy genre was created for, decided to use his early 20 years the best way just about anyone can - playing baseball. Russell's father Bing Russell was a former player for the Yankees and Cubs before becoming a actor on westerns. He would later play an even larger role in his son's baseball career, and on minor league baseball in general.
Kurt Russel spent 1971 with the Bend Rainbows of the Northwest League where in 51 games he hit a respectable .285 and was named an All Star that season. The following year he suited up for the Walla Walla Islanders and while he only played 29 games that season the future Elvis impersonator still hit well enough to justify him progressing up several steps in the Minor League ladder to play with the El Paso Sun Kings. Unfortunately for Russell and his baseball career, after only 6 games for El Paso, he suffered a rotator cuff injury, ending his time in the Texas League.
It was after this injury that Kurt Russell entered a piece of Minor League irreverence and oddness that his father had been creating in the Pacific Northwest. After the Portland Beavers relocated to Spokane, Bing Russell stepped in and created the Portland Mavericks, a team fitted in garish uniforms with the official colors of Streetwalker Red, Dig Black, & Snow White. To give you an idea of the sort of team the Mavericks were, pitcher Rob Nelson developed Big League Chew in while in the bullpen on days he was not pitching. In 1973 Russell made several appearances with the Mavericks while mainly helping his father in the front office. He even came back in 1977 for one final at bat to end his career.
By the mid 70's Russel's acting career was progressing to the point where he had to give up his part time baseball career. In 1978 the pacific Coast League officially returned a team to the Portland area and bought out Bing Russell and the Portland Mavericks were no more. Luckily for fans of offbeat baseball history (and I assume that is anyone that reads this far down one of my articles), Bing's grandsons (Kurt's nephew's) are in the process of releasing a movie on the team titled The Battered Bastards of Baseball. You can find an interview with the filmmakers and Kurt here.
Kurt Russell's Stats
Best Kurt Russell Movie - The Thing
Best Action Movie Character - Snake Plissken
Portland Mavericks - Fun While it Lasted