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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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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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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
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.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Knuckle(ball)head Who Started It!!! Dec 9 2003
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 groundbreaking, revolutionary book about baseball, sports, and life in general. Most people are correct when they say it was the first truely successful "tell-all" book, pointing out the human fallacies of such superstars as Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard, and Alvin Dark, as well as the dubious effectiveness of executives in general and managers in particular. Most critics are also correct when they say that this book violated the sanctity of the locker-room by showing a professional sports team as a profane, prank-filled, rather juvenile bunch of guys rather than as cardboard heroes. Still, many people who write about Ball Four miss it's most significant contribution, one voiced by Bouton himself: He told the American public how much (and, more importantly), how little professional athletes really made at the time. According to Jim, most people read the headlines and knew that Mickey Mantle made $100,000 a year or so in the mid-1960's. But they didn't realize that Yankee rookies (the team Bouton started his career with) only made $7000 a year, and that Jim himself only made a salary in the low 20's even after three years of experience, twenty wins a season, and two World Series wins as a pitcher! In other words, most people felt that if Mantle made 100K, then Elston Howard, Tom Tresh, Jim Bouton, and other Yankees of the day must have made about 40-60K each season. The fact that Bouton broke the most sacred code of all and TOLD HOW MUCH MONEY PLAYERS EARNED (or not, as the case may be) made him a pariah to the baseball establishment and forced his exclusion from Yankee's Old Timer games for the next quarter century. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars True Major League Baseball world revealed !!!!!! Nov. 3 2002
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 every time. Ball Four is a fantastic day-in-the-life recounting of a single player's (Bouton's) Major League season - more specifically, the season being 1969, and his playing days that year split between the upstart franchise Seattle Pilots, and the beleagured, relatively new Houston Astros. What sets the novel apart is it's absolutely brutal, truthful (but very taboo) telling of the player's and coach's personalities and lifestyles. Not a single vulgarity or shocking sequence is missed in Bouton's daily log he kept which eventually became this famous non-fiction piece. It also created more enemies in the game than he could've imagined. He only played one and a half more seasons after it's publication, and is a testament to a very intelligent, and brave athlete who wrote with a beautifully relaxing, very funny, and down-to-earth tone. A great read for true baseball fans.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit-dated, Questionable Character
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 more
Published 14 months ago by George
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading.
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
Published 22 months ago by R. J. Richmond
3.0 out of 5 stars Profiting at the Expense of Your Friends
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 more
Published on June 16 2010 by Larry Wood
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Insight in Pro Baseball
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 more
Published on April 24 2004 by M. Buisman
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
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 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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