If you are a baseball fan, it is an absolute must that you read Ball Four. It will open up the game for you — giving you a read on what the players think, and what life is like in the dugout, on the team bus or plane, and in the hotels on the road. It will change your whole perspective of the game.
Albiet what the players were thinking and what life was like in 1969, which is a different time and different game — an era when even top stars had to take a job in the winter time to pay the rent. Still, human nature doesn’t change: guys in their 20’s and 30’s are still guys in their 20’s and 30’s; no doubt checking out girls in the stands, playing pranks on each other, and not minding when the guy ahead of you in the bullpen rotation gets lit up so you get a chance to shine.
Funny, Sharp Writing
And then beyond all of that — Jim Bouton was a very smart guy, with a terrific sense of humor. And so you get excellent writing and funny stories. It’s just a wonderful look at the other side of life, and now — a time capsule into that other time to boot.
Ball Four Was 1st of It’s Kind
Ball Four was the first book in all of sports to give a peak to the player side of the story. It is the seminal, definitive dizz buster book on which a host of imitator books were based.
Ball Four was so shattering and cut the envelope so much when it came out in 1969, that the Lords of Baseball and many baseball players smashed Bouton in the media.
I give Ball Four 5 Stars out of 5 Stars.
I’ve read this book — or reread portions of it — many times as seen by the picture of the book for this article, which is the original paperback I bought in 1974 or so.
IF YOU ARE A BASEBALL FAN YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.
After writing Ball Four, Bouton retired and became a sports caster on local TV — WABC Eyewitness News in NYC in the early 70’s.
In 1975, Bouton launched a comeback at what seemed like 45 yrs old at the time but he was only 36; he was not able to surface out of the minors. In 1978 he launched a 2nd comeback, courtesy Ted Turner of the Atlanta Braves, and made it up to the Braves at what seemed like 55 yrs old at the time but he was only 39. He went 1-3 4.97.
In 1976 there was a Ball Four tv series show featuring Jim Bouton as himself. It was short lived (7 episodes; only 5 were aired).
Bouton became extremely rich as part creator of the baseball gum, Big League Chew. Jim had a stroke in 2012 and sadly passed away in 2019.