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Ball Four: Twentieth Anniversary Edition [Paperback]

Jim Bouton
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 1 1990
Twentieth-anniversary edition of a baseball classic, with a new epilogue by Jim Bouton.

When first published in 1970, Ball Four stunned the sports world. The commissioner, executives, and players were shocked. Sportswriters called author Jim Bouton a traitor and ""social leper."" Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force him to declare the book untrue. Fans, however, loved the book. And serious critics called it an important social document. Today, Jim Bouton is still not invited to Oldtimer's Days at Yankee Stadium. But his landmark book is still being read by people who don'tordinarily follow baseball.

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Ball Four: Twentieth Anniversary Edition + The Boys Of Summer + Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks
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As a player, former hurler Jim Bouton did nothing half-way; he threw so hard he'd lose his cap on almost every pitch. In the early '70s, he tossed off one of the funniest, most revealing, insider's takes on baseball life in Ball Four, his diary of the season he tried to pitch his way back from oblivion on the strength of a knuckler. The real curve, though, is Bouton's honesty. He carves humans out of heroes, and shines a light into the game's corners. A quarter century later, Bouton's unique baseball voice can still bring the heat.


* A book deep in the American vein, so deep in fact it is by no means a sports book"" --David Halberstam

""Ball Four is a people book, not just a baseball book."" --Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

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First Sentence
I signed my contract today to play for the Seattle Pilots at a salary of $22,000 and it was a letdown because I didn't have to bargain. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit-dated, Questionable Character July 4 2013
By George
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just read the book, of course it is out-dated now. Did find it interesting to learn of by gone era in baseball. Being 48 I recall a few of the players he talked about. Kind of low-blow on Bouton's part to name names and tell inter secrets in some teammates life. Everybody has things in their private life which should be left there. Reading how Bouton handled a few of his contracts can't help but think he did this to increase demand for book. His financial gain of course but left black mark on some of his teammates.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading. Nov. 24 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bouton is a bright guy who writes pretty well in both the serious and humorous vein.
It's hard to imagine given the present times, just how controversial this book was in its day.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Profiting at the Expense of Your Friends June 16 2010
I still have my original copy of this expose by Bouton. It is revealing and funny but it is also very much a betrayal of his former teammates and friends. That much is clear even in the forward to the book. (e.g. Let the truth prevail, feelings be damned. Gossip.)) Loyalty played no role at all in the writing of this journal, a fact made very clear to Bouton by many of his former peers since it was published. It was done at their expense, of course with no chances for them to respond or speak in their own defence. What about an expose of the angelic Bouton? He has paid a price in terms of ostracism in the 40 years since the book was a hot item and it's quite understandable. It's really the National Inquirer of baseball books and appeals to folks of that mindset, probably subscribers.

Many of the people who rated this book gave it a 5 because they were entertained by its revelations but I doubt that even one of them would appreciate such a thing being done to them, which could happen because nobody's perfect.

Larry Wood
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Insight in Pro Baseball April 24 2004
My teacher for my History of Sports class recommended this book and I bought it. He told us that is was a very controversial book at the time because it spoke of things that were better left unspoken. That is the best recommendation you can get!
It is a very funny book, sometimes Bouton describes things that could be in a movie about baseball, a National Lampoon version that is. There is drinking gambling and looking at girls from all angles. But didn't we all expect them to this anyway?
He was ostracized by baseball but it is really harmless fun, the new sections in this edition also talk about what happened after the first edition came out. Get it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Damn near perfect March 24 2004
Jim Bouton's Ball Four has rightly been called the best sports book of all times by publications that actually matter, but I figure I'll throw my two cents in, too. In a day before an ol' ballplayer could hire a ghost and slap together some fond memories or pathetic pleas for forgiveness (hiya, Pete Rose), Bouton, making a comeback as a knuckleballer with the expansion Seattle Pilots, toted a tape recorder with him for an entire year in order to write this day-by-day account of life in the bigs.
The humor is at once anecdotal and observational, and, most importantly, consistent. The Seattle Pilots were rather like the Cleveland Indians in the film Major League - a haphazard collection of rookies and cast-offs trying to make it. Of course, Major League had to have the whole underdog thing going on.
The issues that face baseball today - drugs, salaries, lack of interest by hometown fans, the Yankees being the source of all evil - are all present in Ball Four. The only part of the book that hasn't aged perfectly is the scale of the salaries - Bouton and his teammates hold out for an increase of a few thousand dollars, instead of the millions today's players make.
In summation, there is no baseball book you should read before this one, and there are precious few books you should read, period, before this one. Ball Four is in every right an American masterpiece.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "BALL FOUR" by Jim Bouton (1970) Feb. 23 2004
"BALL FOUR" by Jim Bouton (1970)
The truth about athlete as role models occurred with the bombshell publication of Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" in 1970. The result was a diary of the 1969 season, in which the former star pitcher talked about drinking, drugs, sex and RACE, all subjects the liberal "clubhouse lawyer" had an axe to grind on. "Ball Four" had more edge than a Doors concert, breaking new ground long before Watergate, the Internet and Monica Lewinsky. The old protocols had protected J.F.K.'s sex life, but Bouton, who probably idolized Daniel Ellsberg, felt the clubhouse adage "What you do here, what you say here, what you see here, let it stay here," did not apply.
Bouton pissed off Commissioner Bowie Kuhn with his expose of players' common habit of popping amphetamines. He pissed off a lot of wives by revealing a peculiar member of the female species known as "Baseball Annies," attractive young women who enjoy sleeping with ballplayers. He pissed off his old Yankee teammates by putting the myth to Mickey Mantle's legend, paying homage to The Mick's Olympian abilities, but talking about Mantle's equally prodigious drinking habit.
Bouton describes "beaver hunting," a popular player pastime in which they drilled holes in the dugout in order to look up the dresses of girls in the front row. Gives a whole new meaning to the term "box seat," doesn't it?
Bouton comes from the "white man is to blame for all the black man's problems" ideology, and he put the lie to baseball's claim of being color blind, with enlightening racial statistics that revealed that many of the game's stars were black, but few journeymen were.
Many of his conservative teammates felt he was a bit of a Communist.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious look at baseball
Even aside from its baseball aspects, Ball Four probably deserves recognition as the funniest string of anecdotes ever put on paper. Read more
Published on Dec 21 2003 by Max J Rosenthal
5.0 out of 5 stars The Knuckle(ball)head Who Started It!!!
Ball Four, Jim Bouton's fine diary about life with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros in the year 1969 (the same year man landed on the Moon), has been hailed as a... Read more
Published on Dec 9 2003 by chris meesey Food Czar
2.0 out of 5 stars Now I Understand...
I have been reading up on Mickey Mantle since seeing the movie 61*, about the Mantle/Maris race to beat Babe Ruth's single season home run record. Read more
Published on June 23 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars True Major League Baseball world revealed !!!!!!
Jim Bouton is not a name that comes up when discussing the all time greats of baseball. However, when discussing the all time greatest baseball novels, his name should come up... Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2002 by Nick Schmiedeler
5.0 out of 5 stars A Baseball Memoir
What can I say about this book? I used to read it every summer. I read it by date (June 9, I read June 9 entry) tracked the stats etc. I first read this book in eighth grade. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2002 by Timothy Gager
5.0 out of 5 stars Jim Bouton takes sports fans into the locker room and beyond
Who would have thought that when Jim Bouton agreed to keep a diary during the 1969 baseball season, that "Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckle-ball in the... Read more
Published on June 9 2002 by Lawrance M. Bernabo
5.0 out of 5 stars A Groundbreaking, Entertaining, and Funny Book
"Ball Four" is a diary that covers the year of a baseball player, in this case Jim Bouton, who spent the 1969 season with the expansion Seattle Pilots and then the... Read more
Published on May 9 2002 by R. Angeloni
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