When Portland, Oregon, lost its longtime minor-league affiliate, Bing Russell bought the territory and formed a single-A team to operate outside the confines of major-league baseball. The only thing uniting his players, recruited at open tryouts, was that no other team wanted them. Skeptics agreed that it could never work. But Bing understood a ballplayer's dreams, and he understood an audience. His quirky, unkempt castoffs won games, and they won fans, shattering minor-league attendance records. Their spirit was contagious, and during their short reign, the Mavericks brought independence back to baseball and embodied what it was all about: the love of the game.