Ball Four: Twentieth Anniversary Edition Paperback – Jul 1 1990
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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.
""Ball Four is a people book, not just a baseball book."" --Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Great read for baseball diehards like me. It carries on a little long however, an interesting guy. Historically, this is a really important book.Published 11 days ago by Ryan fletcher
Have not read it yet. I dont think it is the original Ball Four. But i am sure i will enjoy it.Published 4 months ago by George E Georgian
May have been good for its time, but it's not very scandalous for today. Still an Interesting insight to the clubhouses of the sixties and then attitude of management towards the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Suzanne Zupan
I read it every year at the All-Star break. Sunshine, summer heat, smell of the grass...it's such a beautiful day for a ball game, let's play 2. Great read.Published 7 months ago by michael benzie
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. Read morePublished on July 4 2013 by George
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... Read more
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. Read morePublished on June 16 2010 by Larry Wood
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... Read morePublished on April 24 2004 by M. Buisman
Even aside from its baseball aspects, Ball Four probably deserves recognition as the funniest string of anecdotes ever put on paper. Read morePublished on Dec 21 2003 by Max J Rosenthal