In the violently shifting landscape of minor league baseball, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, one of more than 40 teams to lose its Major League affiliation, have given rise to a new independent league that features, among others, a reboot of an iconic band of misfits and outcasts from the 1970s, the Portland Mavericks.
The four-team Mavericks League, which will begin play this spring at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, Oregon, will include the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes; the Volcanoes’ Copa de la Diversión identity, the Campesinos de Salem-Keizer; and the Salem Senators, a reboot of a Northwest League team that played from 1940 to 1960. But it’s the revival of the Mavericks that’s getting the attention of baseball fans.
The Portland Mavericks, famously featured in the documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball, were known for fielding teams with huge chips on their shoulders—with players ranging from undrafted free agents to washed up Major Leaguers like Jim Bouton (pictured above) to the celebrity son of the celebrity team owner, actor Kurt Russell and Bonanza star Bing Russell respectively.
The Mavericks played from 1973 to 1977, setting Northwest League attendance records and making the championship game three straight years, all while playing against affiliated teams made up of players drafted by Major League clubs. The team dissolved when the Triple-A Portland Beavers came to town in 1978.
The 2021 iteration of the team when the Mavericks League begins play in May.