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Ball Four: The Final Pitch | [Jim Bouton]

Ball Four: The Final Pitch

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"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.)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Richie 04-28-15
    Richie 04-28-15 Member Since 2015
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    "All-time great book."

    Love it, he told the hard cold truth about what actually happens in a locker room and showed how hard it was to negotiate a decent contract in the days before free agency.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Fort Morgan, CO, United States 04-25-15
    John Fort Morgan, CO, United States 04-25-15 Member Since 2014

    Great way to read great books on the go. Love Sci Fi especially Orson Scott Card and Star Wars.

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    "Just a bit outside"

    This was an excellent audiobook. I really appreciated that the author was able to read this as it gave extra meaning to some of the stories. This includes both some of the funny stories, the songs, and even the more tragic moments towards the end of the book. This book greatly exceeded my expectations and I am glad that I spent the time to read it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomaz 03-02-15
    Thomaz 03-02-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Best biography I ever had"

    The story of a deviant, and you still get to know all the American baseball idiosyncrasies as a bonus. Recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Price 02-10-15
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    "Amazingly read by the author"

    Love this version (audio) read by the author now even more then reading it (paperback, which I still have) at age fifteen, forty five years ago.

    Jim, you are a wonderful human being. Thank you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Rohde Jensen Denmark 08-12-14
    John Rohde Jensen Denmark 08-12-14 Member Since 2010
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    "A baseball epic"
    Where does Ball Four rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is all the way up there among the very best. A bit too much stuff have been added to the original story. Some good, some bad and some long winded.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The death of his daughter. Hearing a father break down, as he reads it, over the loss of a child is just too much to handle. I couldn't continue the book after that. It's just too hard.


    Any additional comments?

    An absolutely brilliant book even to this European who's never thrown nor catched a single baseball.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dazed 06-14-14
    Dazed 06-14-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A guilty pleasure from my youth."
    If you could sum up Ball Four in three words, what would they be?

    Baseball told realistically


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Jim Bouton?

    Only if he reads the sequel


    Any additional comments?

    I like the personal aspect of the book as told by the guy that lived it, the sound fluctuates a bit, but it's tolerable. The story is fun and entertaining.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Townsend eastern NC 01-02-14
    R. Townsend eastern NC 01-02-14 Member Since 2012

    bunky1998

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    "Much more than just a baseball book"

    I'm not a huge baseball fan, but I picked this up as an alternative to the business books I listen to in my car each day. I quickly found myself laughing out loud as Bouton describes the antics and behavior of himself, his teammates and the coaches/managers of their expansion MLB team.

    This is not a story about baseball as much as it's a story about young men being young men in the late 1960's, an aging pitcher looking for a second chance in the big leagues and why professional sports have changed so dramatically since Bouton was a player.

    Even more so, you get a chance to hear how Bouton's life changed after he wrote "Ball Four" and the life he pursued post-baseball. Bouton's stories and perspectives on a variety of subjects here are just as enjoyable.

    I typically prefer for someone other than the author to read the book aloud, but I must admit that "Ball Four" was the exception. You can't help but laugh along with Bouton as he cracks up, remembering these stories while he reads them. At the same time, you will experience his pain and sense of loss in a way that only Bouton can share as he reads to you. At one particularly emotional and poignant moment, Bouton says, "If you've read this far, you're like family anyway." It is as if he is reading to YOU personally, and I've never experienced that in any other Audible book. It is very moving, to say the least.

    One of the best books I've ever gotten on Audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. 02-09-13
    D. 02-09-13
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    "Tickled"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Ball Four to be better than the print version?

    Yes & then some .


    What did you like best about this story?

    Almost Everything - The Only Thing That I Did Not Enjoy Is Something That You Will Have To Listen To The Book To Understand .


    What about Jim Bouton’s performance did you like?

    GREAT !
    He will get So Tickled at times reading/remembering that You just have to laugh along with Him .
    There are other times You will feel other emotions as well.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The Part That I Did Not Enjoy


    Any additional comments?

    Great Book - Great Narration

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jo 02-04-13
    Jo 02-04-13
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    "Good Insight Into Quirks of Baseball in 1960's"
    Would you try another book from Jim Bouton and/or Jim Bouton?

    Probably not; but a definite NO if he reads it!


    Would you recommend Ball Four to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes, but only if you love baseball and are at least 50 years old. You need both to appreciate the narrative, the players' names, etc.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jim Bouton?

    Anybody!! But, truthfully, when he occasionally snickers -- or outright laughs -- while reading things that "he wrote," it made me smile a few times; but I think my smile was "at Bouton" rather than "with Bouton."


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-30-13

    FredAllen

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    "Listen to Bouton chuckling at his own bad jokes"

    About the only thing humorous about this audiobook was Bouton laughing at his own jokes.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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