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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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Performance
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  •  
    Chris Madison Heights, VA, United States 01-07-13
    Chris Madison Heights, VA, United States 01-07-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ball Four is a Walk"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would have had the book read by someone else. During the read he sometimes cracks himself up and it becomes a bit annoying.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I would have had the book read by someone else. During the read he sometimes cracks himself up and it becomes a bit annoying.


    Could you see Ball Four being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    no. I do not thank his career as a ball player was that impressive.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jimmy Altadena, CA, United States 10-23-12
    Jimmy Altadena, CA, United States 10-23-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Several Very Different Stories"

    Ball Four is a classic and it is wonderful to hear Bouton read the book himself. Hearing him busting up laughing at his own recounts of the nutty characters in the book is a real joy. However, SPOILER: Bouton has undergone a great deal of hardship and heartbreak in the last couple of decades and he writes about, and subsequently narrates, this in the epilogues. He does a beautiful and heart-wrenching job but naturally you will be left with a much different experience than you would if you had only read Ball Four. It's a great book with and without the epilogues, but it is something to be prepared for. I'm glad I listened to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    That SEATTLE, WA, United States 10-08-12
    That SEATTLE, WA, United States 10-08-12 Member Since 2014

    That Ray Guy

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    "Jim Bouton Speaks Truths"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    I am NOT a sports fan - at times I can even be anti-sports, but this book is not a sports book. This is a true story told by the man who lived it (and took notes along the way).

    It is a story about people - the many types of people and how they act and interact with reality and the perceptions of their upbringings - and especially how people treat each other.

    Well thought out. Well written. Very well narrated.


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    Jim Bouton - just listen to the sample and you'll know.


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    Giving away my favorite scene would be giving away the best parts. You'll just have to trust me that there are enough favorites for everyone.


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    Enjoying life with dignity.


    Do you have any additional comments?

    Go ahead - it's a wonderful way to enjoy time with yourself and the author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen B San Antonio, TX USA 10-08-12
    Karen B San Antonio, TX USA 10-08-12 Member Since 2012

    birkelbk

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    "On Deck...Baseball's Paraiah"

    I don't have a love of baseball, but I have an appreciation for it since I married a baseball fan and am raising a baseball fanatic. When we heard Jim Bouton on a radio program, my husband said he read Ball Four when he was a teenager and remembered it being a good book, so I thought I'd listen to it. Jim Bouton, telling his own stories, was a riot, especially when he couldn't keep from laughing at some of the antics of his teammates during the telling. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it was a real insiders look at the clubhouse workings of baseball in the mid-century of the game. Bouton tells about people I remember from my childhood as former baseball players, so getting to know them as active players was delightful.

    It is really sad that so many in baseball turned against Bouton for his tell-all book, the first of many written by other baseball players and managers. There was nothing in the narrative that would cause an outsider to make any value judgements on any of the players, thereby justifying their shunning of Bouton. And while Ball Four is a complete story on its own, "The Final Pitch" part contains material from the 10-year anniversary re-release (Ball Five) and the 20-year re-release (Ball Six). Jim Bouton brings the real, human perspective of the effects a career in baseball has on a person in the final chapters of The Final Pitch.

    I recommend Ball Four: The Final Pitch to anyone with any level of appreciation for baseball because it will bring untouchable players off the field and into your heart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry Fremont, CA, United States 09-14-12
    Larry Fremont, CA, United States 09-14-12 Member Since 2008
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    "A great story told by a great storyteller"
    What did you love best about Ball Four?

    Bouton is reading his own book. Sometimes he cracks himself up while reading and I love it. His personality comes through in every chapter.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Ball Four?

    Retelling some of the hijinx that overgrown boys will do.


    Any additional comments?

    Bouton should step aside and let someone with talent join the glee club. His voice just isn't up to the task! It's great to be an Astro.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed Indianapolis, IN, United States 08-14-12
    Ed Indianapolis, IN, United States 08-14-12 Member Since 2014

    I drive over 30,000 miles every year, and books from Audible make the drive time a wonderful experience. History, fiction, mystery, etc.

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    "Wow, wonderful old memories rekindled!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes I recommend this book, especially to baseball fans. I read this book when I was young in the early 70's, and now enjoying it once again with the perspective of time made it a wonderful treat to listen to.


    Any additional comments?

    Normally, I don't care for an author reading their own material, but this book turns out to be the exception. Bouton does a mavelous job of narrating his own work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Flushing, Michigan, United States 07-20-12
    Jeffrey Flushing, Michigan, United States 07-20-12

    Moth Butterfly

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    "A Human Story"

    When the original Ball Four, circa 1970, came out, I found myself somewhat uninterested, therefore didn't read it (or listen to) till now, 40 years later. In some respects I'm glad I waited. The expanded version Ball Four is more than a story about baseball its one of the human condition. Bouton goes beyond the original tome to his life after baseball which I found just as fascinating. While I am considerably younger than him I certainly appreciate the struggles that life leaves many of us . In his case the passing of a loved one was particularly tender. The raw honesty in his story telling along with a lively sense of humor makes Ball Four an excellent work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wurdsmith Spokane, WA, United States 06-04-12
    Wurdsmith Spokane, WA, United States 06-04-12 Member Since 2005

    A writer and journalist living in the great Pacific Northwest

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    ""I Laughed, I Cried ... ""
    If you could sum up Ball Four in three words, what would they be?

    A Game Changer


    What did you like best about this story?

    I first read Ball Four as a kid when it first came out and caused such a stir. It changed the way I thought about sports, and the stories inspired me to look for the real stories behind the scenes and not the glossy, front-office-authorized fluff that passed for sports memoirs before Jim Bouton set the genre on its ear.


    What about Jim Bouton’s performance did you like?

    I have spent countless hours as a sports writer listening to athletes tell stories. My favorite hours have been spent at baseball training camp, listening to coaches and former players telling their stories. Jim Bouton reading his own book is as close as the casual listener can get to that experience. For a baseball fan, it's a true gift.


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

    My heart broke as Jim described the death of his daughter and the emotional return he made to Yankee Stadium that grew out of that deep family tragedy. It is gut-wrenching, it is deeply personal, and it is as raw and real as it gets.


    Any additional comments?

    Listen to this book, then go pound some Budweiser.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Battman Sacramento, CA 06-04-12
    Battman Sacramento, CA 06-04-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Better Than the Original!"

    I decided to go back and read Jim Bouton's iconic 1970 novel, "Ball Four." So when I went to Audible to download it, I was delighted to discover that Jim Bouton himself was the reader. And I also learned that I would be listening to the updated version, which included all of the updates he had added whenever they re-published the book.

    What a treat.

    It doesn't always work well when the author does the reading, but Bouton was a terrific reader. You felt you were sitting down in the living room and listening to his stream of consciousness as he talked about his career and especially his 1969 year with the Pilots and Astros - then as he updated the book in his several epilogues. He laughed as he was telling a funny story, and you knew no one else could read it quite the same way.

    With the good comes the bad, however; in his last chapter (which is why the newest version is called "Ball Four: The Final Pitch"), he talks about the sudden death of his 31-year old daughter, Laurie, who was rear-ended in a fatal car accident. Jim could barely get the words out as he recounts those horrible hours, days and year afterwards. I challenge any of you to keep a dry eye as he struggles to read his own words. Or when the Yankees finally ask him back - after 28 years in "exile" - to the annual Old Timers Game at Yankee Stadium.

    So if you get the same notion - to go back and read the book - make sure you get the latest edition. And I guarantee you will not be disappointed if you listen to the audio version instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue 05-03-12
    Sue 05-03-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Baseball fans everywhere!! Listen to this one!"

    That the author read this really lent so much more to the content. He made himself laugh AND cry. Hated to hear it end. Thanks Jim! You rock!

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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