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Ball Four Paperback – 12 Jul 1990


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Product details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 20th Anniversary Edition edition (12 July 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020306652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020306658
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.7 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 656,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

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." ––Christopher Lehmann–Haupt, The New York Times

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." —Christopher Lehmann–Haupt, The New York Times

From the Back Cover

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." —Christopher Lehmann–Haupt, The New York Times When Ball Four was first published in 1970, it hit the sports world like a lightning bolt. Commissioners, executives, players and sportswriters were thrown into a state of shock. Stunned. Scandalized. The controversy was front–page news. Sportswriters called Bouton a Judas, a Benedict Arnold and a "social leper." Commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force the author to sign a statement saying that the book wasn′t true. One team actually burned a copy of Ball Four in protest.And Bouton is still not invited to Oldtimers′ Day at Yankee Stadium. Fans, however, loved Ball Four and serious critics called it an important document. It was also very popular among people who didn′t ordinarily follow baseball, because Ball Four is not strictly a book about baseball, but one about people who happen to be baseball players. And it′s hilariously funny. For the twentieth–anniversary edition of this historic book, Bouton has written a new epilogue, detailing his career as an inventor, his battles with the Wrigley Company over bubble gum, his take on the Pete Rose controversy, and how baseball looks two decades after he changed its public image forever.

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I signed my contract today to play for the Seattle Pilots at a salary of $22,000 and it was a letdown because I didn't have to bargain. Read the first page
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
As far as I'm concerned, Ball Four is easily the best baseball book out there. I've read about 45 baseball books and nothing compares to Bouton's masterpiece. I've read this book four times and it still hasn't gotten old yet. I'm sure I'll read it at least ten more times and I doubt that I will ever get tired of it.
What makes Ball Four better than any other baseball book is that it allows its readers to see the game from a player's perspective. Never has a book given such an up-close, in-the-locker-room look at baseball. Of course, Bouton himself is brilliant. I love his sarcasm and his biting wit. Ball Four might have been a pretty good book even if it had been written by a poor writer; Bouton, though, is an excellent storyteller and his attitude is what shapes the book. If you consider yourself a fan of the game, you will buy Ball Four immediately. It has given me great joy time and time again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Perhaps Jim Bouton himself says it best: "The books that have come after mine make BALL FOUR, as an expose, read like THE BOBBSEY TWINS GO TO THE SEASHORE."
This is because--dare I say it?--BALL FOUR is now pretty tame stuff. Oh, no doubt, it's entertaining...and Bouton IS a good writer (or Schecter a great editor). And let's never forget that WITHOUT it, we should never have had the pleasure of Dennis Rodman's name on a bestseller.
But the book is hardly shocking anymore, and I doubt the high school toughs of today have even heard of it, much less decided to read it (now, if MICHAEL JORDAN decided to write a tell-all....)
However, the diminished shock value makes BALL FOUR'S merits stand out more clearly than perhaps they could when it was new. Though I wasn't shocked by it, I often found myself laughing; Bouton has a way of sketching characters and dialogue quite entertainingly. Too, being a bit of an outsider myself, I could certainly relate to his one-rational-voice-crying-out-in-the-wilderness persona. And the 1990 edition of the book has value in that Bouton is able to look back and see the results of the changes in baseball he and others worked toward.
So, perhaps, the reader's enjoyment of BALL FOUR is in the approach. Don't expect to be shocked or enraged; that time is past. Rather, expect four or five days of solid chuckles and a good feeling when you finish.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
He writes honestly about what it is like to be the outsider. Which is why this book created such an uproar in 1970. Marginal relief pitchers can not give the public the low down on Mickey Mantle, or give the bird to Commissioner Kuhn.
Baseball needs someone today to give us the real story. I still come back to this book after 10 years. It is refreshing in its innocence. Would Sammy Sosa pop a greenie? Do the Montreal Expos go "beaver shooting" while in Toronto? Certainly there must be a manager today who tells his team to "Pound back the ol'Budweiser like Joe Schultz. Say that its so.
This book will be read by baseball fans in 2075--as much as Fred Talbot must hate to hear it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
If you want a comparison of how life for Major Leaguer's has changed over the years, then try the following.
First, read James T Farrell's "My Baseball Diary". Here you will see that old time ball players lead sometimes difficult lives and relied upon the help and guidance of others to get by.
Second, read Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" where you will see that most ball players are really just playing for the love of the game but some get caught up in the stardom and let things go to their heads.
Third, read Mike Shropshire's "Seasons in Hell" to see how a young ball players career can bw wrecked by an impatient ownership looking to increase ticket sales. You'll also see that these Texas Ranger players were so screwed up that Billy Martin isn't even the strangest character in the book.
Fourth, realize that we may never see such books written about todays players - the legal battles would be incredible !!!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So much to like in what is probably one of the best baseball books ever written.

The closest equivalent for a UK audience would be Eamon Dunphy's mid-70s masterpiece `Only a Game'. They were both written by professional sportsmen in an era before big money came into their sports, whose best days were behind them and at a time when the mantra `what happens in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room' was still king.

Bouton is insightful and a great storyteller. While some of the stuff he and his fellow players got up to in the 60's now looks infantile and more than a little sexist, it was of its time and should be seen through that prism. Though the original diary-style 1968-9 musings were great, what really made this book a pleasure for me were the epilogues written ten, twenty, thirty and now nearly fifty years after the original. They showed a decent, liberal man who stayed true to himself and his beliefs, who gradually accepted a life outside of the sport and who ultimately found peace, even after the truly heart-wrenching death of his daughter, Laurie. Having been born in the same year as her, Bouton's writing was particularly meaningful to this reader.

Oh, and I absolutely love the way also that he speaks for so many of us grouchy older sports fans as he mocks the OTT celebrations so commonplace in modern competition. My two favourite lines were: ` In my day, a player would hit the ball, toss his bat aside, jog around the bases, tip his cap, and sit down. A homer was a homer - not a religious experience' and `God does not care about somebody throwing a ball past a stick. Unless He's working on a knuckleball'.

A great read.
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