Bad News Bears: Cast List Of The Little League Blockbuster
Walter Matthau, Tatum O'Neal. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)
The 1976 baseball comedy The Bad News Bears featured Walter Matthau trying to corral a ragtag cast of misfit little-leaguers including Tatum O'Neal and Jackie Earle Haley. This was no sanitized story of clean cut kids pulling together for the big game -- the Bears really were bad news. Some kids clearly didn't want to be on the team, while others were, for youngsters, pretty much undesirable (would you want your child hanging out with adolescent loan shark Kelly Leak?). But with some inspired coaching from the Budweiser-swilling Buttermaker (Matthau) and sponsorship from Chico's Bail Bonds, the Bears managed to get it together just enough to prove that they were more than the sum of their parts.
Before Smalls and the gang ran away from a beastly dog in The Sandlot, there was another baseball comedy centered around a group of rambunctious kids. The 1976 classic The Bad News Bears joined together a team of misfit children led by an alcoholic ex-baseball coach. Despite their adversity, The Bears grow together in both their athletic skills and their friendships in the film that symbolized the American dream through baseball culture. The Bad News Bears featured a cast with some actors who would lead long, successful careers and others who all but disappeared once they reached adulthood. Nevertheless, each character of the sports film made a lasting impact on audiences worldwide.
Walter Matthau As Morris Buttermaker
Matthau plays a boozy ex-baseball coach who recruits a team of outcasts after a lawsuit was presented against the league for excluding players. Morris Buttermaker coaches with an unorthodox style, and even with the children he is very aggressive and loud. The team of underage kids was presented with beer by Morris after they lost their final match, which they sprayed all over each other in celebration. Matthau’s actual son Charles Matthau appeared in the film as well as a player on one of the rival teams. This was also the second time he and Vic Morrow starred in a film together, as they had both previously appeared in the Elvis Presley film King Creole in 1958. Steve McQueen and Warren Beatty were both offered the role of Morris Buttermaker originally, but turned it down they were working on other films at the time.
Tatum O'Neal As Amanda Whurlitzer
Amanda Whurlitzer was the lone girl on The Bears who proved that girls could be just as tough as the boys. While the team was dreadful at the beginning of the movie, Morris recruited 11-year-old Amanda, the daughter of his ex-girlfriend, whom he'd coached when she was younger. As the pitcher, Amanda was the most talented player on the team and restored confidence and hope in the Bears. While some of her pitching scenes were performed by stunt double males wearing long-haired wigs, a majority were actually her own pitches as she trained with a professional pitcher for numerous weeks to achieve her “perfect pitch.” Tatum O’Neal played a similar role as another tomboy in a love/hate relationship with a father figure in the 1973 film Paper Moon.
Jackie Earle Haley As Kelly Leak
Morris Buttermaker also recruited Kelly Leak as left/center field to enhance the talent of the Bears. Kelly is a tough little outcast well on his way to juvenile delinquency, smoking cigarettes and making cash as a loan shark. He also rides a Harley motorcycle and develops a crush on Amanda. Jackie Earle Haley made a big comeback in the 2000s after a thirteen-year acting break when he appeared in the films Little Children (2006), Watchmen (2009), A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010), Dark Shadows (2012), and RoboCop (2014).
Gary Lee Cavagno As Mike Engelberg
Mike Engelberg is the chubby catcher with a smart mouth -- when we first meet him, his only real talent seems to be insulting the other teams and his own friends. Gary Lee Cavagnaro only appeared in one other feature movie, Drive-In (1976) and then gave up on acting. However, Cavagnaro gives all the credit to his character Engelberg as the reason his life changed and he grew in confidence. "Quite honestly, growing up in Texas as an overweight kid with very little self-respect at the time, it really did change my life," Cavagnaro said in 2016. "Forty years later, I'm a successful businessman. Now I actually like myself whereas a lot of kids don't when they are in that situation...I hope (my character) worked as a role model for kids that were in that position."
Chris Barnes As Tanner Boyle
Chris Barnes plays the shortstop of the Bears, Tanner Boyle, who is in fact very short himself. Tanner compensates for his lack of size with overly aggressive and dominating behavior and starts numerous fights with opposing teams -- he suffers from a pre-pubescent version of "short man's disease," trying to make up for his lack of size with tough-guy antics. Tanner is the cusser of the team with his foul-mouth, but also uses the word “cruddy” or “crud” eleven times throughout the film. Barnes’ acting career didn’t exactly explode after The Bad News Bears, but he did appear in the sequel The Bad News Bears In Breaking Training and a few After School Special episodes during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Erin Blunt As Ahmad Abdul-Rahim
Erin Blunt’s character Ahmad was a black Muslim player in the outfield who was adored by everyone on the team, especially because of his speed and bunting skills. Ahmad tried to quit after the first game when he made a few mistakes he was ashamed of, but the rest of the Bears convinced him to come back because they truly cared for him. Blunt and Jackie Earle Haley were the only two actors to appear in both of the sequels to The Bad News Bears: The Bad News Bears In Breaking Training and The Bad News Bears Go To Japan . Blunt had a fairly successful TV career in the '70s and early '80s, appearing in guest roles on such hit shows as The Waltons, Happy Days, and What’s Happening!!, and also acting in the feature films Car Wash, and A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A Sandwich.
Alfred Lutter As Alfred Ogilive
Ogilvie was the smartypants of the Bears who memorized baseball statistics and played the game through technicalities and analyses. He was a backup outfielder who primarily spent his time on the bench and was afraid to play because he felt he wasn’t as good as the others. Alfred Lutter was a brainiac in real life as well. After Bad News Bears, Lutter transitioned away from acting when he earned a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Stanford University in 1984 and a Master of Science in management and engineering from Stanford in 1988. He founded his own company Lutter Consulting which assists with technology and software services.
Vic Morrow As Roy Turner
Vic Morrow’s character Roy was the coach of the Bears’ rival team The Yankees. Roy is another aggressive coach who, as expected, finds himself in numerous fights with Bears coach Morris Buttermaker. Although Roy’s team defeats the Bears in the championship game, he is shocked to find the Bears, along with Buttermaker, cheering in excitement. Morrow led a long acting and directing career in film and television, but unfortunately died in a special effects-related freak accident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie on July 23rd, 1983.
Tags: Cast Lists From Popular Movies | Sports Movies | Tatum ONeal | The Bad News Bears | Vic Morrow | Walter Matthau | Jackie Earle Haley
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