Has come under fire lately for being politically incorrect while being aimed at children. This is because the movie's characters use the "n" word to refer to African Americans, the "s" word to refer to Hispanic people; the characters make nasty comments about Jews, women and gay people.
In the film, neither of the Aguilar brothers could speak any English. In reality, according to an interview in a Sports Illustrated "Where Are They Now" issue, Jaime Escobedo (Jose) and George Gonzales (Miguel) were in fact fluent in English, and didn't know how to speak in Spanish. They had to learn their entire dialogue strictly in Spanish before filming began.
Throughout the film, Coach Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) is constantly drinking beer, yet he is seldom seen drinking the same brand. Buttermaker is seen at various times in the film drinking Budweiser, Miller High Life, Schlitz "Kingers," Pabst Blue Ribbon, Lucky Lager, and Coors.
Kristy McNichol was originally offered the role of Amanda Whurlitzer. After successfully auditioning, the producers told her when they would begin filming, and to start preparing, but McNichol says over one weekend they changed their minds, and she got the disappointing call they were giving the role to Tatum O'Neal. The pair later of actresses later co-starred together in Little Darlings (1980).
Bill Lancaster's screenplay was based on his experiences with his father, Burt Lancaster. Buttermaker was based on Burt, who was known for his grumpiness and the character of Amanda was based on himself. Burt Lancaster would later be cast as an aged version of early 20th Century ballplayer, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham in Field of Dreams (1989).
When Coach Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) is getting into his car after leaving Councilman Whitewood's office, there's a sign in the background for a production of "Hello, Dolly!". Matthau played Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly! (1969).
Featured an unusual crossover of product placement for Denny's, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's. All three are family oriented restaurants serving convenience foods, and largely in competition with each other.
Walter Matthau's was the third choice to play Morris Buttermaker. Steve McQueen and Warren Beatty were both earlier offered the part but both turned it down due to involvements with other film projects.
Aside from the two sequels and one remake, the movie was also adapted as a half hour TV sitcom in 1979-1980, The Bad News Bears (1979). The television series ran for twenty-six episodes on CBS, with Jack Warden starring in the role of Morris Buttermaker and Corey Feldman as Regi Tower.
The Coach is shown to purchase his team's uniforms at "Willis' Sporting Goods" in Thousand Oaks, CA. This store (now closed) was owned and operated by Howard (Howie) Willis, who is now retired and living in Lake Oswego, OR. [February 2015]
Buttermaker's comment to Amanda about thinking she was Catfish Hunter, with all of her expensive demands before agreeing to play with the Bears, was referencing Hunter's recently becoming the highest paid baseball player in the league.
The daily newspaper comic strip Tank McNamara ran a story line loosely based and inspired by the movie. In the story line a girl named Janet wins an injunction to pitch in an all boys Little League for a team called The Bears. Janet and the team's coach bore slight resemblance to Tatum O'Neal and Walter Matthau.
Buttermaker ribs Amanda, asking her if she thinks she's Catfish Hunter. In Matthau's film, Grumpier Old Men (1995) Catfish Hunter was the name of the mythic fish that all the old anglers hoped to catch.
This film was made and first released in 1976, just under three decades (or twenty-nine years) prior to its remake, Bad News Bears (2005), which starred Billy Bob Thornton in the Walter Matthau role. The remake dropped the original title's definite article, "the", from its name.
The ball field location was part of a larger recreation park and had no car lot directly beside it. Loose dirt was laid down, and a temporary cement ramp was installed at the curb to create the look of a parking lot.
In the scene where Amanda Whurlitzer (Tatum O'Neal) tries to set up future plans with Buttermaker, herself and her Mom, Buttermaker angrily rebukes her, sending her away crying. Some might think it's implied that Buttermaker is her father, otherwise the scene wouldn't be so emotionally charged. However, the only thing that is definitely implied is that Buttermaker and Amanda's mom dated. He could be her father, but it seems unlikely.