Ball Four: The Final Pitch is the original book plus all the updates, unlike the 20th Anniversary Edition paperback.
When Ball Four was published in 1970, it created a firestorm. Bouton was called a Judas, a Benedict Arnold and a “social leper” for having violated the “sanctity of the clubhouse.” Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force Bouton to sign a statement saying the book wasn’t true. Ballplayers, most of whom hadn’t read it, denounced the book. It was even banned by a few libraries.
Almost everyone else, however, loved Ball Four. Fans liked discovering that athletes were real people--often wildly funny people. Many readers said it gave them strength to get through a difficult period in their lives. Serious critics called it an important document.
David Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer for his reporting on Vietnam, wrote a piece in Harper’s that said of Bouton: “He has written… a book deep in the American vein, so deep in fact that it is by no means a sports book.”
In 1999 Ball Four was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the “Books of the Century.” And Time magazine chose it as one of the "100 Greatest Non-Fiction" books.
Besides changing the image of athletes, the book played a role in the economic revolution in pro sports. In 1975, Ball Four was accepted as legal evidence against the owners at the arbitration hearing, which lead to free agency in baseball and, by extension, to other sports.
Today Ball Four has taken on another role--as a time capsule of life in the 60s. "It is not just a diary of Bouton's 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros," says sportswriter Jim Caple. "It's a vibrant, funny, telling history of an era that seems even further away than four decades. To call it simply a "tell all book" is like describing The Grapes of Wrath as a book about harvesting peaches in California."
©1970, 1981, 1990 Jim Bouton (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"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." (The New York Times)
"Ball Four is out in a new e-book edition, available on Kindle. It also is available as an audio book, read by Bouton himself, through audible.com. The only thing better than reading Ball Four again might be listening to Bouton read it to you." (R. A. Dickey, columnist and senior writer for ESPN.com.)
Jim Bouton is still one of the most divisive baseball players in history. Considering all we know now about the personal lives of today's sports stars, this book is almost quaint. But what Bouton did was to pull aside the curtain that hid the players from the view of the public. Just as what John F. Kennedy did in his personal life was hidden from the public (the same era that Bouton pitched in), the New York Yankees made sure that the sexual and drug-fueled careers of their players (particularly stars like Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle) was off limits to the press. Actually, the press in both the cases of JFK and the Yankees were willing conspirators to keep up appearances. Bouton writes a story that tells it all. Most notoriously, we learn about the bed hopping antics of Mantle et al, and the dependence that players had for "greenies" (amphetamines). The story is funny at parts but also sad because Bouton later tried to regenerate his career as a junk ball pitcher after blowing out his arm early into his career.
I am also grateful to Bouton for not only serving as his own narrator (he frequently begins laughing halfway through a story) but also for courageously including the coda to his story. Bouton lost his daughter to a tragic accident and his overwhelming sense of loss is powerfully presented here. I wept as I drove, listening to this man unfold his sense of absolute despair. I hope that this does not spoil the book for anyone--this is not an ordinary sports book (it's actually one of Time's 100 most important books of the 20th Century). You will laugh and you will cry. Bouton is one of the true giants of baseball and hopefully one day the Yankees, if they haven't already, will reconcile themselves to his story.
it took a while to get into but he's got some gems in there. if you wanted to hear about how ball players were like in the 60s then this is for you
With Jim Bouton actually reading the book, complete with appropriate inflection, the listener can really get a better notion of what he was feeling at the time.
Hearing an interested and involved onlooker actually cut down some of the great players of the day. Today sports interviews are generally so staid and trite, with a litany of cliches, that met out very little actual information
The whole book was pretty interesting, especially when Bouton makes his comeback years after his career was ostensibly over.
This is a pretty interesting insiders look behind the scenes. My one criticism would be that while Bouton does mention some of his own misgivings, others, that my own reading outside of this book, are glossed over or ignored. I'm pretty sure I was paying attention throughout and there is no mention of his retirement in the 70's.
donald t wardlow
I read this book at some point in the '70s when it was relatively new. I had to smother my laughter, lest my Mom ask me what I was laughing about. A lot of the stories here weren't the kind you told to Mother-not then, not now. How could this book get any funnier? Have the author read his own work. Awesome move. Bouton has been a motivational speaker for some time, and kindly sent me a recording of one of his speeches when I was a baseball broadcaster. I knew from hearing it how good his delivery was for jokes. I didn't know that a 70-year-old Bouton could still laugh at jokes he wrote 40 years earlier. He did. What a romp through baseball's past this is.
This is a bit too long for me with a lot of repetition. as a diary, it works really well, delving into the day to day lives of baseball players. I can see why it was shocking to the public when it came out and why other players might have been upset. But these days, none of this is shocking or much news. I will probably pick up where I left off at some point, but for now I will set it aside.
One of the best I've heard!
Having the author himself reading the book was fantastic! His spontaneous chuckles when reading certain passages was really wonderful!
Not sure if Jim has read other books.
A great story about a great era of a great game!
This is a really wonderful book and Jim Bouton's performance is magnificent! It was heartbreaking to listen to him reading the passages about the death of his daughter. It was hard to listen to...but touching because you can hear the genuine emotion in his voice.
This is really two quite different books. The original Ball Four, from the 1970's, is goofy and funny. Being read by the author in the audiobook, he telegraphs the punchlines as he can hardly contain his own laughter. I almost cried a couple of times with his stories. The narrative is a little choppy in moments, as he has plenty of flashbacks. It's also a unique tale, as he wrote this while playing for the Seattle Pilots, who were only a Major League franchise for a single year, before folding and moving to Milwaukee. The second half of the book are a series of 10 year updates. The last is the most heart bending. Having the author read his own book, and telling the story of the death of his daughter in her early twenties is jarring, but all too real. A couple of times in my life I've experienced parents in their 80's and 90's losing a child in their 40's or 50's, and that was something I'll never forget. The rawness of his reading is incredibly moving. If you aren't up the that, you can stop at the end of the first half of the book, and you'll have a wonderful time. I learned more about life in the second half of the book.
I had read this book in high school but wanted to refresh my memory. I forgot most of it and enjoyed the author's reading of his own story. You can feel his emotion as he reads. He chuckles when he recalls a funny story, and exhibits pain when he tells a sad one.
A reminder of what sports and baseball used to be. It was before free agency and the boom in salaries in all sports. They struggled over $500 a season.
Somewhat. It's a long book and I usually only listen on my 30 minute commute to work and back. However, I did find myself sitting in my driveway now and then wanting to finish a few of the stories.
I think Jim Bouton is more famous for the book than for his pitching record. Few remember that he won 20 games in a season for the Yankees or actually pitched in the World Series.
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