The Bad News Bears 1976

This movie was a surprise hit in 1976. It’s about an inept baseball team that is coached by an alcoholic Morris Buttermaker. The kids are foul-mouthed and the coach could care less for most of the movie. When I watch this movie I’m in little league again.

The script is smartly written and the comedy is good. Sometimes this movie gets overlooked but it is a great baseball movie. The cast includes Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, Vic Morrow, and Jackie Earle Haley.

The movie rings true today. As bad as the kids are in the movie, the adults are worse. Parents screaming at kids when they make bad plays and one parent (coach) is about winning at any cost.

The movie is so 1970s but it pulls the veil back on youth sports then and now. They really nail down what the adults are like in little league… I coached little league a few years ago and I had a parent actually call me about his son at 10pm because he thought he should be hitting 3rd instead of 5th…this was a team of 4 and 5 year olds. I saw a coach and parent have a fist fight in the back of the stands…

It reminds me so much of my little league experience. People are shocked now when I tell them. I had a coach when I was 11 and we would be at the park practicing. I usually played 3rd base, pitched, and sometimes was the catcher.

Our coach would be hitting grounders to each of the fielders from home plate. The infielders would throw to first and then throw back to home…normal right? Our coach would have a beer in one hand and would hand it to me when hitting the ball. I would hand it back while the first baseman was throwing it back to me. This would happen in each practice on the city field. We didn’t think anything about it. The catcher was also the official beer passer and holder.

We had a lot of fun. I just knew I was going to play for the Dodgers when I grew up and take Ron Cey’s place when he was ready to retire. It was like going to college to be an accountant…you were training to be what you were going to be.

If you have never seen this film you are missing a baseball classic.`

Brett Marx was in this movie. He is the grand-nephew of Harpo, Groucho, Chico. and Zeppo. He was Gummos grandson…

brett marx.jpg



Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

14 thoughts on “The Bad News Bears 1976”

  1. Love this movie- its been a few years since I’ve last watched it but a classic. I know Walter Matthau played in hundred movies etc but when I think of him I think Odd Couple as Oscar Madison and Buttermaker!.. I played and later coached Little League- every team seemed to have someone who resembled in some way one of the Bad News Bears characters.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I coached little league in the 80’s… later I coached middle school girls basketball- it hasn’t changed much. I don’t know how many girls- according to their parents- the only thing holding them back from a scholarship to UConn and Geno– was me… lol.. the girls for the most part were not a problem. Parents- I got a call at home 9pm after a game once because during a game my point guard wasn’t playing well I took her out for 4 minutes or so and everything started to click- when she went back into the game she wasn’t the point guard… dad called telling me she has been the point guard her whole life etc…. unreal…

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      2. That is unbelievable… well what am I talking about? No, it’s very believable. The parents ruin it for the kids. I guess nothing changes.

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      3. I think overall most parents were fine– some years there was never one problem… other years it was a headache from day 1 until the end. One year at the end of the season the mothers of the two girls who played the least all season start towards me– and they both thanked me for having their girls on the team and how much the girls enjoyed being on the team etc.. sometimes you tend to forget those moments…….. every little league baseball team i coached had an Engelberg… I only had a couple Kelly Leak’s..

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      4. They did have one of every kid…I always divided the coaches up and I told them I wanted the worse players there to work with. We would divide up and I worked with the bottom players and some of them really took off. I had parents thank me after that and tell me other coaches never gave them playing time or a chance…so yes sometimes the bad comes to mind first.

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      5. That was a great idea. You are right some coaches just write off the ones who seem hopeless– some just take longer to develop. I had several kids for 3 years – the first two years the results were not really there but in their last year they really came into their own. … One boy he had a brother a year younger and the younger brother was probably the best player I ever coached- great athlete- the older boy not so.. Always felt for him. One day we got them all together and took them to a batting cage an hour away.. the next day the older boy who had probably 2 hits in 2 years went 4 for 4 on 4 solidly hit balls to the outfield. I don’t know who was happier- the boy- the dad or me. He went on a streak for a while of pounding the ball. The whole team after the batting cages took off- we were getting the 10 run rule on teams the rest of the year….other teams started going to the batting cages after hearing about what we did– but it never worked for them… I always thought at the little league level- if a kid had desire to play you could work with them.

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      6. That is a great story. That kid had to feel so much better about himself after that. That makes coaching worth it. I still run into the parents every now and then in town and they are great… The rock bottom was the fight…luckily the coach and the parent at least got out of view. Of course, the coach was gone after that…I just looked at the coach and said Really?


      7. Isn’t that a shame that people get so out of hand like that? Not a good example to any kid. There was always a jerk coach in the league it seemed. When I was 9 I had Vince Lombardi as a coach- the next year I was on a different team…. is winning at that level really the objective? I don’t think so. Its nice in coaching I had outstanding teams and the last year I coached basketball we won 2 games. As long as the team has hope going into a game- it’s good. I’ve seen teams that were unbeaten and no one was having fun. My favorite teams were the over achieving teams that did better than anyone expected..

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Yes, the coaches and parents think scouts are in the crowd and want to win at any expense including turning kids against sports. The overachievers bond together.


      9. In the end my goal was to make it fun- no one remembers the wins and losses years into the future but whether it was fun or not.. It makes me shake my head when I think the first group of kids I coached are now- approaching 50!

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Being a teacher you probably run into kids that you taught in the past. You picked a great profession. You helped shaped kids lives is great. I still run into ome teachers I had and I thank them. In 1978 I had a homeroom teacher who was a Yankee fan and we would argue back and forth…good natured of course. He would explain more about box scores fueled my baseball fever.

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  2. An absolutely classic movie. I watched it for the first time in about 30 years a year or so ago, and couldn’t believe some of the dialogue. There’s no way they’d get away with such a script today. I didn’t know that about Brett Marx. He even looks like Harpo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know he really favors Harpo… No, they could not get by with it now. It would not be for everyone that is for sure.


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