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.)
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.
A writer and journalist living in the great Pacific Northwest
A Game Changer
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.
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.
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.
Listen to this book, then go pound some Budweiser.
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.
You can't get the feeling that Jim Bouton puts into it with the printed edition. This is the best author read book I have ever listened to. It is like sitting around having a few beers with Jim Bouton and letting him tell you stories - about baseball, about his family and about his life. You will laugh out loud and cry along with Bouton, who does both as he reads his book. Nice to see someone who is not afraid to display real emotion. Only a Bowie Kuhn loving, myopic Yankee fan could still hate this book. The little editing miscues only add to the charm of the book. This is not a sterlie precise, English diction recording.... this is life at its rawest form.... real amd emotional. The people that complain about this would probably sit a ball game and sulk the whole time too.
Ken Stabler's "Snake"
I couldn't make it thru the book, and I don't give up easily. Hard to follow once you have lost the ability to listen to the author laugh at his own jokes.
He laughed at his own jokes that were not funny. Dull. Unprofessional
I bought this book based on very high reviews and ravings. I thought I'd learn all about the inside stories in baseball, again based on reviews. Not even! What we have here is a so-so had been baseball player telling HIS story and in a bit of a confused way since he jumps around a bit.
I'm slogging through really bad jokes where the reader-author laughs to let you know it's suppose to be funny. I would never have purchased a book by a not very well known has been baseball player's life. It's just not interesting to me. What I thought I was purchasing was stories of a lot of baseball players and the secrets behind the facade of baseball. If that's what you are wanting, take it from me -It's not there.
Too many instances of coughing, microphone bumping and other distractions. Doesn't anyone listen for these things prior to release?! A terrible disservice to Jim Bouton, who deserves better.
Entertaining, informative, heartwarming
The best part of this book was the author's narration.
Involvement and emotion
There were several. Bouton's narration was more like a one on one visit with the man. He laughed at the silly stuff and broke down when what he wrote touched him deeply.
This book is the real deal. It is a story of real baseball from the perspective of a player. The fun, the drudgery, the joy and the pain of the game come through Bouton's narration in a way that puts the listener in the story. His humor, confusion, outrage and emotional involvement in the game comes through loud and clear and is augmented by the revised edition additions to the original book. I laughed and I cried as I listened to this tale of a man inside baseball who loved the game and his family, fought hypocrisy in the front office and through horseplay showed his love and respect for his compatriots, competitors and officials. This was one of the best books I have ever listened to and I think that means something having over 500 titles in my Audible Library
I can't understand what the big deal is about this book. I love baseball. Just finished books on Cobb, Ruth and Stengel. I could barely listen to this. It was just a continuous attempt by Bouton funny which he was not. It still would not be good but it would have been an improvement had Bouton not tried to narrate it.
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