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.)
This is a great story. I really enjoyed the author chuckling along to the old war stories - so maybe you need to be a baseball fan and be old to get into the fun of it all.
I also enjoyed the updates on previous editions even when the going got rough. I have read many sad stories but hearing the pain in Jims voice with the loss of his daughter will stay with me forever.
At the end of the book Jim says if you have come this far, and are still listening, you are almost family. I appreciated this thought and felt it was a privledge to be a part of something bigger.
this was a great book made all the more enjoyable by the emotions that came through as Bouton read his own words
Loved that the writer himself narrarated the story. His own emotion had me laughing and crying. Very rare to have that kind of emotional investment and sensitivity on an audio book. Thank you Jim Bouton.
Including something of interest.
Did you ever have that conversation with an elderly relative who gave you every unimportant detail that you didn't care about? Jim Bouton compiled that daily and read it out loud.
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
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