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Ball Four by Jim Bouton

Ball Four (original 1970; edition 1990)

by Jim Bouton

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1,1042810,946 (4.12)50
Title:Ball Four
Authors:Jim Bouton
Info:Wiley (1990), Edition: 20th Anniversary, Paperback, 465 pages
Collections:Your library

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Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues by Jim Bouton (1970)


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Ball Four has been a yearly read for me since I first discovered it on my Uncle Dick's bookcase back in, oh, I guess 73 or 74. It was the first sports book I'd ever read that portrayed its players as something other than superheroes. Rather, they are just men with a different sort of job, and they live the same wacky lives we do. And that's where this book truly shines, so much that it transcends the sports book genre and rises to the creme of literature. It is something to experience, to savor.

Now I feel should explain my background here. I played Little League ball when I was young. I felt it a family obligation... you're a Reyome male, you play a sport. Well, I sucked at baseball. I enjoyed tennis, and basketball, and street hockey, but was at best uninterested in all of them.

This, I thought, made me weird. A deviant. I was, God forbid, different. I loved to sing, I loved to act, I loved to write. Was there a place for me in this sports-obsessed Reyome family world?

Well, apparently there is. This book did two important things for me...it taught me that baseball--nay, sports in general--was not everyone's be-all end-all. There was a life beyond it, and I think I learned that a lot sooner than anyone has a right to. Pretty darned important news for a 13 year old.

Weirdly though my interest in sports, especially baseball, did not lessen after this reading. Instead it grew and grew. I became intrigued with the statistical side of games, and in no time found myself employed as official scorer for a men's softball league. $15 a game in 1978? Yes, please! It beat working, I was good at it, and I was taken seriously...ask any of the guys who contested hits versus errors with me.

Then came motor racing. Well, who knew, my first interest in that singular sport was the stats...and I have made a pretty decent supplemental living with this pretty much ever since. I was in Timing & Scoring at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville this past weekend, a venue that's been a home away from home for me since 1992.

Inevitable Question: Do I really credit Jim Bouton and Ball Four for this?

Equally Certain Answer: You bet I do. By expressing the notion that there was a place for everyone in sports, even us deviants, he opened a lot of doors into worlds I never knew existed, worlds I am still exploring all these years later.

Read this book, cover to cover, even if you don't care a lick for baseball or sports of any kind. Truly, it might change your life. Otherwise you'll just enjoy a helluva entertaining read. Either way, there's no Loss...only a potential Win or a Save.

Thank you, Jim Bouton. ( )
2 vote Jamski | Jul 18, 2018 |
The impact of this book can never be underestimated. Before 1970, when it was first published, there had never been a “tell all” written by a professional athlete. And while much of the misbehavior that Bouton describes among his Seattle Pilot and Houston Astro teammates seems downright quaint by today’s standards, Bouton was among the first to reveal the unsavory practices that management too often perpetrated at the expense of players. For its scathing honesty, Bouton’s wit and keen observation, and its trailblazing effect on future sports memoirs and exposés, Ball Four is a remarkable achievement.

As a narrative, however, it leaves much to be desired. Structured as a daily chronicle of Bouton’s 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots (who ceased to exist after their single season, after which they moved to Milwaukee and transformed into the Brewers) and later the Houston Astros, there is nothing resembling a genuine story here—more precisely, the book is more littérature vérité than crafted plot. The book reads like a diary/journal, and each entry is prefaced by the date and city where the action occurs. So if it’s a well-structured narrative plot you’re seeking, look elsewhere. But if you want a “slice of life” look behind the scenes of 1969 major league baseball, this is the book for you. ( )
1 vote jimrgill | Jun 26, 2018 |
One of the most important sports books every written. Even more so than Jerry Kramer's Instant Replay, Ball Four takes the reader not just into the locker room, but into the mind set of the professional athlete. It humanizes the athlete by knocking him off his pedestal. The book also changed sports journalism, however, by publicizing things athletes previously thought were private.

Bouton is a very good writer, and gives enough game highlights to appeal to the sports fan, and fleshes out the personalities in the book. Of course, when I read this book, I had the baseball cards of many of these players. Younger readers might find the book less interesting because the Seattle Pilots were not a very good team, and didn't really have any good players (though it did feature a rookie named Lou Piniella).

And lest anyone suggest it to younger readers, the language is decidedly R rated. ( )
1 vote Scott_Hercher | Nov 25, 2017 |
First-hand account of a gifted pitcher who played for 4 major league teams in the 1960s, including the Yankees. Bouton has a great sarcastic voice and isn't afraid to tell all, especially about fellow players. (He had a love/hate relationship with Mickey Mantle, e.g.) ( )
  mjspear | Jan 4, 2017 |
5431. Ball Four The Final Pitch, by Jim Bouton (read 13 Dec 2016) I have long wanted to read Ball Four, since it so famous a book. With my interest in major league baseball gloriously renewed in this fantastic year of Cubs glory, I thought this would be a good time to read it. The edition of the book I read came out in 2014 and includes not only Ball Four (published first in 1970) but Ball Five,published ten years later and Ball Six published 20 years later and Ball Seven published 30 years later and an Epilogue dated April 2014. I found I enjoyed the book a lot, and it was often LOL funny and I was always glad to read it and not hoping it would be finished. Ball Seven, which tells of Bouton's daughter Laurie's death is grippingly sad. Ball Four uses gutter talk, no doubt accurately echoing the language players often use, but such use did not repel me as the same type of use in some books does, since I knew Bouton was trying to give a realistic account of life as a player. I frankly had forgotten there was such a team as the Seattle Pilots--they existed only in 1969 and I have not in the years since my youth paid much attention to the American League--but that is the team which Bouton played for during most of the 1969 season, being traded to Houston in August 1969. One is struck by the salaries which players got in those days. In Ball Seven Bouton comments on whether one should deplore what players get these days and what he says makes a lot of sense--they get what they are able to induce owners to pay them. After all, it is the players who fans want to see. I found this book a thoroughly fascinating insight into life as a player and the New York Public library was right to include it in their 100 Books of the Century.list. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Dec 13, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jim Boutonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schecter, LeonardEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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FOR BOBBIE Thanks, coach
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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.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0020306652, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:34 -0400)

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The diary of a major league baseball player during one season reveals the game's venal and foolish aspects.

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