'The Bad News Bears': Where Are Those Li'l Bastards Now?
A theoretical follow-up to baseball cinema’s beloved foul-mouthed tykes.
The beloved baseball comedy The Bad News Bears opened in theaters on April 7, 1976, and instantly proved to be an era-defining classic that's continued to be cherished by every generation since its premiere.
With a sharp, salty script by Bill Lancaster (son of Burt) and satirical but warmly human direction by Michael Ritchie (Smile, Fletch), The Bad News Bears initially shocked some viewers by depicting mid-’70s pre-teens talking to one another as they actually did—i.e., spewing profanity, hurling racial and sexual epithets, and bursting out with emotions Hollywood had always pretended were beyond the “innocence” of children.
The kids also joyfully guzzle beer with Coach Buttermaker at the end. Imagine that happening now!
Each of the Bears starts out as a misfit player on a last-place team. Through gall, gumption, and a willingness to sock it to their blowhard jock rivals every way possible, they make it all the way to the championship—and into cinema history—becoming iconic characters along the way.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Bad News Bears, here is The KIND’s real-world guesses at what became of the fictional characters. Batter up!
Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)
Background: Ex-pro baller turned boozy pool-cleaner turned sudden Little League coach.
2016 Status: Dead. Succumbed in 1981 to what doctors called “the most timely untimely fatal cardiac arrest due to general anti-health” they’d ever seen. Buried with a smile on his corpse.
Amanda Whurlitzer (Tatum O’Neal)
Background: 11-year-old pitching prodigy who reluctantly breaks new ground as the first female in their local SoCal pee-wee league.
2016 Status: Hillary 2016 executive strategy advisor who still smokes all comers from the mound by way of her various softball concerns. Recently confessed to her wife that she might secretly vote for Bernie.
Kelly Leak (Jackie Earle Haley)
Position: Left Field and Centerfield
Background: Marlboro-puffing, dirt-bike-riding, 13-year-old hoodlum and air hockey hustler who joins the Bears after losing a bet.
2016 Status: Figured out in 1978 why Amanda Whurlitzer didn’t return his affections, impregnated a pinball arcade floozie in retaliation. His son, Kelly Leak Jr., became a Marlboro-puffing, dirt-bike riding hoodlum and Pac-Man hustler circa 1982. By 1995, Kelly Leak III was puffing Marlboros and hustling Nintendo. At present, Kelly Leak the IV vapes and hustles Candy Crush.
Tanner Boyle (Chris Barnes)
Background: Sawed-off, foul-mouthed hot head whose volcanic temper enrages opponents and inspires his teammates.
2016 Status: Trump 2016 delegate. Wears lifts.
Mike Engelberg (Gary Lee Cavagnaro)
Background: Obese and slow, but has a powerful arm and belts homers like Babe Ruth.
2016 Status: Beat Coach Buttermaker to a lethal heart attack by a month in 1981. Sadly never got to see the day when his weight would be considered average among American seventh-graders.
Ahmad Abdul-Rahim (Erin Blunt)
Background: African-American Muslim who idolizes Hank Aaron and protests "honkie bullshit" by stripping naked and climbing a tree.
2016 Status: CIA counter-terrorism specialist. For years, Abdul-Rahim credited Coach Buttermaker for steering him away from Al-qaeda. He recently changed that to ISIS.
Rudi Stein (David Pollock)
Position: Relief Pitcher
Background: Spazzy, bespectacled non-athlete whose main function is to intentionally get hit by pitches and obtain automatic walks.
2016 Status: BDSM filmmaker at Kink.com. Specializes in submissive work.
Jose Aguilar (Jaime Escobedo) and Miguel Aguilar (George Gonzales)
Position: Second Base (José) and Outfield (Miguel)
Background: Pint-sized Mexican immigrants who speak no English and prove impossible to strike out.
2016 Status: José retired in 2008 from the Arizona Diamondbacks after a successful 15-year MLB run. Miguel is his accountant.
Timmy Lupus (Quinn Smith)
Position: Right Field
Background: “Booger-eating spaz,” according to shortstop Tanner Boyle. Makes a surprise catch during the championship game.
2016 Status: Still a booger-eating spaz, and not just according to Tanner. Internet journalist.
Joey Turner (Brandon Cruz)
Position: Pitcher for the Yankess, the Bears’ rivals
Background: As a result of being bullied and humiliated in public by his own prick of a father, Yankees coach Roy Turner (Vic Morrow), Joey purposefully allows the Bears to score during the championship game, then defiantly throws his glove down at his dad’s feet.
2016 Status: Encitas-based Life Coach, specializing in a technique called "Throw the Damn Glove Down at Your Dad's Feet."
Alfred Ogilvie (Alfred Lutter III)
Background: Brainy benchwarmer who calculates, compiles, and memorizes baseball statistics, successfully advising Coach Buttermaker on strategy.
2016 Status: Late-’90s Internet billionaire who lost all in the bust of the early 2000s. Presently sitting atop his greatest fortune to date due to early investments in legal weed outposts—and not all of that elevation is strictly financial.