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Ball Four is a baseball classic, a number one bestseller when it was published; it still is in demand throughout the U.S. Now in a new updated hardcover edition, Ball Four will reach a whole new generation of avid baseball fans. In fact, Ball Four has been selected by the NY Public Library as one of the "Books of the Century." And David Halberstam writes: "a book deep in t Ball Four is a baseball classic, a number one bestseller when it was published; it still is in demand throughout the U.S. Now in a new updated hardcover edition, Ball Four will reach a whole new generation of avid baseball fans. In fact, Ball Four has been selected by the NY Public Library as one of the "Books of the Century." And David Halberstam writes: "a book deep in the American Vein, so deep in fact that is by no means a sports book." Bouton has written a baseball book about the reality of the game. Thirty years after its publication, it remains as wonderful to read as ever.


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Ball Four is a baseball classic, a number one bestseller when it was published; it still is in demand throughout the U.S. Now in a new updated hardcover edition, Ball Four will reach a whole new generation of avid baseball fans. In fact, Ball Four has been selected by the NY Public Library as one of the "Books of the Century." And David Halberstam writes: "a book deep in t Ball Four is a baseball classic, a number one bestseller when it was published; it still is in demand throughout the U.S. Now in a new updated hardcover edition, Ball Four will reach a whole new generation of avid baseball fans. In fact, Ball Four has been selected by the NY Public Library as one of the "Books of the Century." And David Halberstam writes: "a book deep in the American Vein, so deep in fact that is by no means a sports book." Bouton has written a baseball book about the reality of the game. Thirty years after its publication, it remains as wonderful to read as ever.

30 review for Ball Four (RosettaBooks Sports Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    “A ballplayer spends a good piece of his life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” Why you looking at me that way, BOWton? This is probably the most controversial book and the most honest book ever written about baseball. It is interesting how the words honest and controversial seem to travel together like a Harley Davidson with a sidecar. Jim Bouton won two World Series games in 1964 with the New York Yankees, but in 1965 he develope “A ballplayer spends a good piece of his life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” Why you looking at me that way, BOWton? This is probably the most controversial book and the most honest book ever written about baseball. It is interesting how the words honest and controversial seem to travel together like a Harley Davidson with a sidecar. Jim Bouton won two World Series games in 1964 with the New York Yankees, but in 1965 he developed arm troubles that turned the pitching phenom from a starter into a bullpen pitcher. When we catch up with Jim, he is with the Seattle Pilots expansion team, trying to learn how to throw a knuckleball in an attempt to resurrect and lengthen his career. Now if you haven’t heard of the Seattle Pilots, don’t feel bad because I’d never heard of them either. They only existed for one year, 1969, and then they were moved to Milwaukee to become the Brewers. Probably few would remember this organization except for the fact that Jim Bouton was with the team. He was taking notes and immortalizing most of the one year this team was in existence. This book hit baseball players/managers/owners like a psycho nun with a steel studded ruler was rapping their knuckles over and over again. I wonder how the baseball commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, felt about the book? Ahh yes, he called Ball Four “detrimental to baseball.” Now a normal writer can’t buy publicity like this, but Bouton was still trying to pitch in the major leagues, and the reaction certainly made things more difficult for him. The book went nuclear. Athletes, in general, who are not known for reading, were reading this book, and for the most part, they had negative reactions. Most weren’t quite as vocal about it as Pete Rose, who anytime Bouton was pitching screamed from the dugout steps: ”Fuck you! Shakespeare!” My question is who told Pete Rose about Shakespeare? The controversy was over Bouton revealing the everyday stupidity that sometimes colossally bored baseball players got up to. Not to mention the rampant alcohol and drug abuse, greenie anyone? Greenies were speed, and pretty much everyone on the team was using them, at least in their minds, to ramp up their abilities on the diamond. Wrapped around all this was the serial infidelity that was just considered one of the perks of being a professional ball player. One of the coaches of the Pilots would always remind the guys before letting them off the plane to go meet up with their wives…”Act Horny”. 1964 after a World Series win. Mantle and Bouton were still friends. Now all of that was bad enough, but where Bouton stepped over the line for many baseball fans was revealing the less than stellar lifestyle of the legendary Mickey Mantle. Sportswriters have a long history of protecting athletes. Most recently, though it was common knowledge among reporters, nothing was reported on the infidelities of Tiger Woods. His image, as far as the public was concerned, was that of a brilliant athlete with the perfect wife, the perfect life. The press was well aware of Mantle’s excessive epic drinking and his infidelities, but never wrote a word about it. Then comes along Jim Bouton. Bouton is a rookie on the Yankees, and one of the first stories he tells about Mantle is the whole team gathering around him on the rooftop of their hotel that, by the way it is angled, gives them a bird’s eye view into hotel rooms across the way. They could watch women undress. I’m not sure, since this was a group effort, that we can even really call this Peeping Tom or Toms. The guys called it ”Beaver Shooting,” and they put a good bit of effort into finding ways to see women exposed. One player drilled holes into the connecting door of his hotel room so he could spy on whoever was in the next room. In another case a player drilled a hole through the back of the dugout wall so he could peek up the skirt of an unsuspecting fan. They had mirrors that they would slide under hotel room doors. The list goes on and on. It was almost a pathological obsession. It reminded me of one time when I was about fourteen, and I was hanging out at the bottom of a set of stairs at the high school waiting for a friend when several girls started down the steps. I looked up to see if it was my friend coming, and my line of sight gave me a perfect uninhibited view of the girls’ underwear. I was gobsmacked. I was turned to stone. I forced my eyes away after what felt like fifteen minutes, but was only probably a fraction over a second. I was sure they knew! They were of course oblivious, but it didn’t keep me from turning thirteen shades of red as their mingled perfumes brushed by me. Beyond the controversy, the book provides an incredible view of what it is like to be a ballplayer. The paranoias, the insecurities, the unfairness, the pranks, and the joys when a knuckleball breaks off the plate the way it is supposed to. The constant worry about being traded or sent down to the minor leagues. ”Us battered bastards of baseball are the biggest customers of the U.S. Post Office, forwarding-address department. I’ve seen letters chasing guys for months, years even. Sometimes you walk into a clubhouse and there’s a letter on the table for a guy who was released two years ago.” Now certainly, Bouton created more stress for himself because it wasn’t long before everyone in the clubhouse knew he was writing a book. He had a sneaking suspicion that the head office might not be all that happy to know he was keeping track of their activities, and the ball clubs antics, and the decisions that were being made behind the scenes. He had the normal ball players paranoia times ten. You, too, can learn how to throw a knuckleball. I have to admit it was fun coming home from work each day and spending some time with the Seattle Pilots. They might have been all too human, but they were certainly real. I have to hope that this book also had some positive impacts on professional baseball. I hope that clubs took a look at the drug use and the after hours carousing. I have a feeling a few wives had a few questions for their baseball playing husbands. Maybe even some ball players seeing themselves in this light, exposed (that would only be fair), made some changes to how they conducted themselves. This wasn’t the era of exorbitant salaries, but they were certainly making more than the average American who came to see them play. Whether they wanted to be or not, they were/are role models not only for kids, but for fans of all ages. Now, I have to go back to work. Anyone got a greenie? If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    This is one of the seminal shoot beaver and tell books. It opened up the field for sportswriters to come and got Bouton into a fair bit of trouble. It is a must-read for its look at the Yankees of Mantle and Maris days, showing them as the very human people they were. A classic of it's genre. Jim Bouton - image from NPR Baseball Almanac entry for Bouton Bouton sold the materials he used in making the book. This lovely NY Times piece includes a revelation on where the book’s title originated. - Mat This is one of the seminal shoot beaver and tell books. It opened up the field for sportswriters to come and got Bouton into a fair bit of trouble. It is a must-read for its look at the Yankees of Mantle and Maris days, showing them as the very human people they were. A classic of it's genre. Jim Bouton - image from NPR Baseball Almanac entry for Bouton Bouton sold the materials he used in making the book. This lovely NY Times piece includes a revelation on where the book’s title originated. - Materials From Jim Bouton’s ‘Ball Four’ Days Going Once, Going Twice ... - by Tyler Kepner July 1, 2017 - NY Times - another piece on Bouton by Kepner - Jim Bouton, Author and Former Pitcher, Struggles With Brain Disease A warm profile of Bouton from Stan Grossfeld at the Boston Globe Jim Bouton still as opinionated as ever

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Loved this...sent it to my grandsons, both pitchers, and my son-in-law.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John

    Ball Four might be the greatest baseball book ever written! Correction, Ball Four might be the greatest sports book ever written. What Bouton accomplished with Ball Four was to tear the cover off of professional sports by exposing the tangled core underneath the canned responses to interviews, the hagiography of sports heroes, and the mundane existence of living out of a suitcase for six months. The haloed Yankees hated this book as it painted their hero Mickey Mantle as less than a shining lig Ball Four might be the greatest baseball book ever written! Correction, Ball Four might be the greatest sports book ever written. What Bouton accomplished with Ball Four was to tear the cover off of professional sports by exposing the tangled core underneath the canned responses to interviews, the hagiography of sports heroes, and the mundane existence of living out of a suitcase for six months. The haloed Yankees hated this book as it painted their hero Mickey Mantle as less than a shining light, the fans didn't care for that either. Players thought it broke the sacred bonds of The Team. But Bouton was always an iconoclast; he cared and fought for what he thought was fair pay long before the free agent era, he talked to reporters in thoughtful conversations, and he took notes. After Bouton blew out his arm for the Yankees he reinvents himself as a knuckleball pitcher and gets called up to a new franchise, the Seattle Pilots. Filled with castoffs and fringe players the Pilots are the perfect team for Bouton to chronologically capture daily life in major league baseball. Funny, wry, and reflective daily recordings from a man with one last gasp of glory left in his arm, and it's not by throwing the baseball. What Bouton deftly does is invite you in on the difficulties and the absurdity, the grind and the goofy, the stoic and the bored. This is best read as following a baseball season, one day at a time. You can relive a team's infamous one year season daily as told by a true voice from the inside.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Diane Ayres

    I read it because it was most often cited as the favorite book of so many guys I knew who came of age in the '70s. Much to my surprise, I loved it. Jim Bouton is a Wit. It's a an amusing, as well instructive, narrative on the mid-20th Century psyche of the American male, which continues to influence our culture (and politics) to this day. Frankly, it gave me more useful insight into "guys" than anything I've ever read. And it makes the perfect bar mitzvah gift: totally delights the boys and terr I read it because it was most often cited as the favorite book of so many guys I knew who came of age in the '70s. Much to my surprise, I loved it. Jim Bouton is a Wit. It's a an amusing, as well instructive, narrative on the mid-20th Century psyche of the American male, which continues to influence our culture (and politics) to this day. Frankly, it gave me more useful insight into "guys" than anything I've ever read. And it makes the perfect bar mitzvah gift: totally delights the boys and terrifies the parents (in a good way) making them face the reality that, yes, indeed, "today he is a man." Similarly, I would also recommend it as sort of primer for girls and handbook for women.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    This review thing asks: "What did you think?" My answer: "Jim Bouton is full of shit." I try to refrain from using profanity in things like book reviews, but in this case, it is the only way to categorize it. Apparently, when this book was first released, it cause a big stir in the baseball community and in the fandom of America. Mostly, I can see why: it is boring, and Bouton takes all 400+ pages to whine about money, coaches, his knuckleball, wanting to start/pitch, and he relishes every opportu This review thing asks: "What did you think?" My answer: "Jim Bouton is full of shit." I try to refrain from using profanity in things like book reviews, but in this case, it is the only way to categorize it. Apparently, when this book was first released, it cause a big stir in the baseball community and in the fandom of America. Mostly, I can see why: it is boring, and Bouton takes all 400+ pages to whine about money, coaches, his knuckleball, wanting to start/pitch, and he relishes every opportunity to dish on how depraved every single big league ball player is. He also, with delight, flouted the stated motto that "what happens in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse" that governs baseball. And he continually acts surprised that fellow baseball players hated the book. Did I mention that this book is boring? The sections were divided up into days, all during the 1969 baseball season, and as each section was lifted from a diary, they were repetitive, and mostly filled with mind-numbing minutiae or strange anecdotes. On this site, and on the book itself, I've seen this "memoir" praised as "An American Classic" and "a book deep in the American vein" and "the funniest book". Uh huh. Perhaps in 1969 when the book had some shock value, maybe. Now? The book is as washed up as Jim Bouton has been his entire career. This book does nothing to advance the magic of baseball, or really tell about the ins and outs of baseball unless you want to believe that every player is a peeping tom that whines about money and when he gets to play next. Maybe that was baseball in 1969, but this is 2011 and this book should be forgotten. Save yourself the pain, read something else.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Hay

    I'm not a baseball fan, but early this year I heard a brief interview with Jim Bouton and there was something about him that caught my attention - perhaps his voice (you can hear his smile in his voice), perhaps it was his word choice or maybe it was his humor. Regardless, something got to me and I sought out this book. I had a choice between reading it and listening and, because it was read by the author, I opted to get the audiobook. Ball Four is only superficially a book about baseball and you I'm not a baseball fan, but early this year I heard a brief interview with Jim Bouton and there was something about him that caught my attention - perhaps his voice (you can hear his smile in his voice), perhaps it was his word choice or maybe it was his humor. Regardless, something got to me and I sought out this book. I had a choice between reading it and listening and, because it was read by the author, I opted to get the audiobook. Ball Four is only superficially a book about baseball and you don't need to understand or love baseball to get this book. Ball Four is a coming of age story ... about an adult and for an adult. Bouton is a superb storyteller and observer, but he is also philosopher, a pundit, a prankster and a child. The book at first seems like diary entries or a series of vignettes, but all of a sudden you find you are immersed and entwined in the life of a very special, yet very human, man. For me baseball was just a framework for the story of a man growing into another man over the period of 30 years. Bouton first opens his mind to the readers, and then he opens his heart - his hopes, fears, dreams, moments when he is great and moments when he is flawed. I laughed (a lot), and I cried (in a good way), and going through Jim Bouton's journey made me a little less scared and a lot more accepting of my own journey. Jim's narration is as revealing as his writing and I encourage you to try this as an audiobook but I finished it only to run out and buy a hard copy so I could someday enjoy this book at a slower pace and linger... this is a book I will recommend to friends over and over. Given the book is on multiple "the best lists" I can't imagine how I missed it all these years. I consider this books one of my top 100 books... a desert island book... and one I know that I will read again and again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fred Shaw

    "Ball Four" is the April Baseball Book Club selection, author is Jim Bouton. Jim Bouton played professional baseball as a pitcher from 1962 to 1970. It's unheard of to have a pitcher play for that long, because of eventual and certain damage to a throwing arm. He played with and against some of the great players of the time: Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Stan Musial, Whitey Ford and lots more. The reason he lasted so long in the game was because of his one great pitch, the knucklebal "Ball Four" is the April Baseball Book Club selection, author is Jim Bouton. Jim Bouton played professional baseball as a pitcher from 1962 to 1970. It's unheard of to have a pitcher play for that long, because of eventual and certain damage to a throwing arm. He played with and against some of the great players of the time: Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Stan Musial, Whitey Ford and lots more. The reason he lasted so long in the game was because of his one great pitch, the knuckleball. The throwing motion for this pitch does not wreak havoc on your arm the way 100 mph fastballs, curves and sliders do. His book made him a legend among fans, but a pariah among some fellow players, coaches, team owners and last but not least, the commissioner of baseball, Bowie Kuhn. Every day he wrote in a journal about what happened during games, in the locker room, on buses to the next game, at hotels, etc. He told stories about players partying habits and their nocturnal excursions. He wrote about salary negotiations and trades. Not being on the receiving end, I didn't see the harm. I thought the stories were hilarious. Ball Four is written like a diary with some anecdotes and memories. The end of the book discusses his times and travels after playing. He was a sportscaster for example and entrepreneur. He met Ted Turner who gave a come back shot at playing again in th Atlanta Braves organization, and he did well pitching in his late thirties. He also discusses the aftermath of the book and how players would not speak to him. I enjoyed this part of the book best. He tells too of his personal life, divorce and the tragic loss of his beautiful 30 yr. old daughter, Laurie. Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" is one of the most widely read books on Baseball. Any sports fan would enjoy it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tung

    It’s impossible for me to properly rate this book, I think, because one of the lenses that impact a review is the context in which the book is released and its cultural significance. And because I am reading this book nearly fifty years after its publication, I don’t have the immediate impact of its release, although it is not hard for me to imagine. Bouton was a major league pitcher for several teams, most notably the Yankees. Ball Four is a running diary of his 1969 baseball season with the ex It’s impossible for me to properly rate this book, I think, because one of the lenses that impact a review is the context in which the book is released and its cultural significance. And because I am reading this book nearly fifty years after its publication, I don’t have the immediate impact of its release, although it is not hard for me to imagine. Bouton was a major league pitcher for several teams, most notably the Yankees. Ball Four is a running diary of his 1969 baseball season with the expansion Seattle Pilots (now Brewers) and Houston Astros. By this point in his career, Bouton had lost his fastball and was trying to pitch as a knuckleballer. Bouton chronicles his spring training experience, his feelings when he is sent to the minors, his joy and frustration with pitching for the Pilots in sporadic relief situations, his emotions when he is traded to the Astros, and his ongoing frustration with various aspects of professional baseball (salary negotiations, the inequity of power between owners and players, life on the road, etc). Reading this book in 2017 in the age of selfies, paparazzi, social media and me-first millennials, and all I see is another individual broadcasting the minutiae of his life to the world in a display of narcissism. While Instagram allows us today to see what a star athlete ate for dinner, when this book was released in 1970, it gave the reader an unprecedented look into private lives. Even more, while today we know all of the foibles of our athletes, in 1969, athletes were still hero worshipped and idealized. Ball Four revealed ballplayers to be drunks and adulterers and drug-users (particularly amphetamines), which stunned the sensibilities of those who considered baseball and its players sacrosanct. No wonder Bouton was blackballed from baseball for so long. Understanding the cultural impact of this book, however, did not improve my opinion of it – which is to say, I did not enjoy reading it. First, in 1969, Bouton scribbled notes and observations throughout the day as they occurred to him, and the prose reads like it. Each sentence and paragraph was often completely disconnected from the preceding sentence or paragraph. This read very much like a running diary, which is to say, full of non-sequiturs, and too ADD for my tastes. Secondly, I side with the many players who held decades-long grudges towards Bouton for what they perceived as Bouton’s betrayal of their confidence. Bouton shares the names of players and the conversations they had with each other about hooking up with groupies, or grooving a pitch to allow another player to end the season with a .300 batting average. These private conversations between teammates is absolutely NOT something you share without their knowledge or consent – especially when it’s released so soon after such conversations actually occurred. If Bouton had written a memoir thirty years later and shared stories that would not harm his teammates so long after the incidents occurred, that’s one thing. But to share conversations about adulterous dalliances in practically real-time? Unforgivable. My feelings towards Bouton certainly affected how I felt reading through the book. Thirdly, in the version of the book I read, it included “Ball Five”, “Ball Six”, and “Ball Seven” – essentially epilogues that were included in later editions where Bouton shared more recent musings about reactions to his book and updates on the lives of the players mentioned in the book. And in much of these epilogues, Bouton uses these sections to self-righteously justify his actions. These sections only made me want to punch him in the face. I will note that in the last section in the book, Bouton shares about the impact the death of one of his daughters had on him, how he coped with it, and how it led to his invitation (finally) to a Yankees Old Timer’s Day. That section is a solid read, and if it the rest of the book had been like that, I would have rated this book 1-2 stars higher. But as it is, that section does not save the rest of this poorly-written diary.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Derek Dowell

    Prior to 1970, the rule in baseball was you better not talk publicly about what the sport and its participants were really like in the clubhouse, on the field, and traveling from city to city. But then along came Jim Bouton. Once a flame-throwing, twenty-game winner and starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, Bouton lost his fastball and found himself working middle relief for the expansion Seattle Pilots, desperately trying to develop a knuckleball and taking notes about pro ball player shen Prior to 1970, the rule in baseball was you better not talk publicly about what the sport and its participants were really like in the clubhouse, on the field, and traveling from city to city. But then along came Jim Bouton. Once a flame-throwing, twenty-game winner and starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, Bouton lost his fastball and found himself working middle relief for the expansion Seattle Pilots, desperately trying to develop a knuckleball and taking notes about pro ball player shenanigans that would eventually be crafted into the book, Ball Four, which went on to be named one of the Greatest 100 Non-Fiction Books of All Time by Time Magazine. When Ball Four hit the shelves in 1970, it caused an instant uproar. Players, managers, coaches, and club executives couldn’t believe that one of their own had gone public with such a behind-the-scene tale of promiscuity, carousing, illicit drugs, and general all around jackassery. A similar book released today would draw barely a raised eyebrow, but jaded 21st century readers should remember that professional baseball players use to be looked upon by the general public as demigods who could do no wrong. Back then Mickey Mantle wasn’t a loudmouthed alcoholic but rather an all American boy from Oklahoma who could knock the cover off the ball. The baseball establishment came down hard on Bouton essentially for having the intestinal fortitude to tell the truth about pro baseball. He was quickly branded a traitor and “social leper.” With echoes of the Spanish Inquisition in the background, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn called Bouton into his office and tried to force him to recant the events portrayed in Ball Four, saying the publication of that nastiness was “detrimental to baseball.” No dice, Mr. Kuhn. There are some people you just can’t strong arm. These days, would the last person who still believes ballplayers are a breed apart please turn out the lights as you leave? This is no condemnation. They are simply human beings like the rest of us, with all the flaws, foibles, and stupidity that entails. Ball Four is presented in diary form, with Bouton providing day-by-day details of games, travel, minor-league demotions, and trades along the way. Written with real humor and skill by Bouton and accomplice, New York sportwriter Leonard Shecter, Ball Four dared to assert that players spent a large part of their time ogling women in the stands (called beaver shooting) and popping amphetamines in the clubhouse like candy. But perhaps the real power of the book comes from Bouton’s anxiety over making the transition from a true star who threw so hard his hat fell off with every pitch to a little-used reliever trying to master the unpredictable (to both pitcher and hitter) knuckleball and hang on to a job. As a lifelong sports fan who somehow reached the age of 44 having never read Ball Four – all I can say is the wait was worth it. Make no mistake, though, this book is for anyone who appreciates a glimpse behind the curtain to places where riff raff like us aren’t often invited. The updated version of Ball Four includes new material by Bouton tracing his move into middle age and beyond, and chronicles his comeback attempt with the Atlanta Braves, the loss of his daughter to a car wreck, the break-up of his first marriage, and an eventual acceptance of the fact that his aging body could no longer allow him to even pitch in local summer leagues for fun. Good stuff, Jimmy Bouton, good stuff.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brad Lyerla

    Jim Bouton had been a talented young right-handed pitcher for the Yankees in the early 60s. He enjoyed two sterling seasons as a starter in New York’s rotation in ’63 and ’64. He is probably best known for winning two games for New York in the ’64 World Series against the Cardinals. Although the Yanks lost the Series that year, Bouton performed well and received much acclaim for winning both of his games and the second one mostly on guts without his best stuff. But he flamed out badly the next s Jim Bouton had been a talented young right-handed pitcher for the Yankees in the early 60s. He enjoyed two sterling seasons as a starter in New York’s rotation in ’63 and ’64. He is probably best known for winning two games for New York in the ’64 World Series against the Cardinals. Although the Yanks lost the Series that year, Bouton performed well and received much acclaim for winning both of his games and the second one mostly on guts without his best stuff. But he flamed out badly the next season and by the end of the decade, he had lost his fastball completely and was trying to reinvent himself as a knuckleballer. In 1969, he found himself on the Seattle Pilots during their one year of existence in the Major Leagues. (They became the Brewers the next season.) He kept a diary of the season and that diary, interweaved with many entertaining stories from his time on the Yankees, became BALL FOUR. BALL FOUR was controversial from the start. Bouton was a free thinker in an era where baseball (and sport generally) was still dominated by authoritarian managers and coaches, who considered anyone not of a like mind to be a malcontent. Bouton made little effort in his book to hide that he was bitter that his pitching career had gone badly after his magical seasons in ’63 and ’64. In particular, his depictions of Joe Schultz and Sal Maglie, his Seattle manager and pitching coach respectively, are unsparing and savagely sarcastic. Schultz and Maglie were, to put it mildly, skeptical of Bouton and his theories on the knuckleball. But the part of the book that drew the most criticism was Bouton’s reminiscences of Mickey Mantle and his drinking, which was largely unknown to the public. Bouton’s stories are kind to Mantle (and drinking buddy Whitey Ford) who Bouton clearly looked up to. These stories are genuinely funny and are recounted in the book purely for the humor. But they struck a raw nerve inside baseball and Bouton was attacked by then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who tried to discredit BALL FOUR. Bouton refused to recant any part of what he had written and for a long while was treated as a pariah by the Yankees. BALL FOUR marked a turning point in baseball writing. It inspired many insipid copycat books. For an example of an especially bad one, you might want to read Joe Pepitone’s JOE, YOU COULDA MADE US PROUD. Pepitone’s story is tragic in a wholly self-inflicted way. But the writing is manipulative and the execution lacks the originality and humor of Bouton. BALL FOUR also inspired a TV sitcom on CBS in which Bouton was cast as the lead. The show was cancelled mercifully after only a few episodes. I loved this book when I first read it, as a malcontent on my own team in the early 70s. I still love it and recommend it highly.

  12. 4 out of 5

    MacK

    Sad to say, baseball nut that I am, this book stayed below my radar for years on end, when it finally became a known quantity in my life as a fan I viewed it as something rather like Great Expectations definitely on the reading list, just waiting for you to tackle it and be stunned. However, rarely does the book live up to the hype. I fully expected a gripping story full of mystery and wonder, wit and grace, evocative prose reliving the highs and lows of a season on the road. And in the course of Sad to say, baseball nut that I am, this book stayed below my radar for years on end, when it finally became a known quantity in my life as a fan I viewed it as something rather like Great Expectations definitely on the reading list, just waiting for you to tackle it and be stunned. However, rarely does the book live up to the hype. I fully expected a gripping story full of mystery and wonder, wit and grace, evocative prose reliving the highs and lows of a season on the road. And in the course of the novel Bouton certainly does have his moments of exalted eloquence, the single sentence: "sometimes I forget to tingle" alone is worth the read. Yet, most of the book is mundane, filled with the quotidian events in a season as a ballplayer. It's 162 games, it's months and months of your life, it's tiring, exhausting, spirit-crushing work (particularly if you're anything less than the greatest player ever), and Bouton chronicles that part of the season masterfully. The locker room banter, the minor fracases and major feuds, the games they play, the haggling with owners and executives, the women--my god--the women. And while much of the book is full of inside jokes, there's enough to amuse anyone and several insightful observations about the growing sentiment of anti-intellectualism in the 1960s. (Best of all, he hates the Yankees, how can any baseball fan (other than Yankees fans) not love the book when he hates the Yankees so much.) While I prefer my baseball literature in a more compelling, dramatic vein, I do appreciate the subtle graces and easy pleasures of a season with a washed up knuckle-ball pitcher with absurd philosophies and good dose of charm.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim Bernhardt

    Whenever you want to complain about how much baseball players are making, read this book about the times during the reserve clause when owners owned the rights to players in perpetuity. Jim Bouton was a young fireballer who was used as piece of meat by the Yankees then discarded a few seasons later when he blew out his arm. "Ball Four" follows his story a few years after that, when he is desperately trying to keep his major league career going by developing a knuckleball, a pitch his old-school Whenever you want to complain about how much baseball players are making, read this book about the times during the reserve clause when owners owned the rights to players in perpetuity. Jim Bouton was a young fireballer who was used as piece of meat by the Yankees then discarded a few seasons later when he blew out his arm. "Ball Four" follows his story a few years after that, when he is desperately trying to keep his major league career going by developing a knuckleball, a pitch his old-school manager and coaches distrust. The year is 1969, the team is the failed experiment that is the Seattle Pilots, and the hero is not the guy who wins the big game, but the guy who is filling out the roster. Bouton describes the game from a different point of view than what can be gleaned from the box scores or observed from the grandstand. In the clubhouse, brains and ballplayers don't mix, management treat players more like inventory than people, and the worst thing you can do is question any of it. Suffice to say, it's the perfect analogy for corporate drudgery.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I've always heard this was one of, if not the best, baseball memoirs, but I find Bouton somewhat unlikable and the book itself a bit boring.

  15. 5 out of 5

    James Murphy

    A reread. I remember loving the book 100 years ago when I 1st read it. More discerning now, I was a little disappointed to think the prose a little ordinary. My fault, I know. I shouldn't expect a man who can throw a knuckleball to also be able to write like John Updike. But I found it less interesting, too. Mine is the expended edition, called The Complete Ball Four filling in Bouton's life since baseball. I found I wasn't interested at all in Balls 5, 6, and 7. I thought it not as sensational a A reread. I remember loving the book 100 years ago when I 1st read it. More discerning now, I was a little disappointed to think the prose a little ordinary. My fault, I know. I shouldn't expect a man who can throw a knuckleball to also be able to write like John Updike. But I found it less interesting, too. Mine is the expended edition, called The Complete Ball Four filling in Bouton's life since baseball. I found I wasn't interested at all in Balls 5, 6, and 7. I thought it not as sensational as my earlier, younger reading. These days I don't expect baseball players to be cleancut and morally sparkling--more like men at work, as George F. Will so insightfully saw them. So Bouton's celebrated revelations about bad behavior don't captivate or amuse a reader as they once did. Still, these are wonderful stories of the game and the people Bouton was associated with.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Al

    Rereading “Ball Four” for the first time since 1970, I was struck by how today’s readers would be baffled by the impact that the book originally had on the sports world. In an era when it’s not unusual for sports figures to tweet their comments about coaches, fans, and fellow players immediately following a game, I’m not sure that today’s fan realizes what a big deal “Ball Four” once was. Pitcher Jim Bouton’s candor about his teammates (past and present), coaches, managers and Major League Baseb Rereading “Ball Four” for the first time since 1970, I was struck by how today’s readers would be baffled by the impact that the book originally had on the sports world. In an era when it’s not unusual for sports figures to tweet their comments about coaches, fans, and fellow players immediately following a game, I’m not sure that today’s fan realizes what a big deal “Ball Four” once was. Pitcher Jim Bouton’s candor about his teammates (past and present), coaches, managers and Major League Baseball itself was ground-breaking and best-selling. While the book’s revelations may seem mild today, at the time they made Bouton many enemies. Part of the fun in rereading “Ball Four” is to gauge how far (some might say how low) we’ve come in tell all sports memoirs since the 1970’s. The other part is enjoying Jim Bouton’s daily struggles as he tries to remain in the majors while extending his years as a pitcher by mastering the knuckleball. Bouton candidly and humorously captured in his daily journal that exasperating year giving “Ball Four” a universal appeal that doesn’t age, even if the ballplayers (and fans) ultimately do. Recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Billed as one of the most (if not the most) important sports book ever, Ball Four reads as a diary of Jim Bouton's struggle to stay relevant in 1969 having reinvented himself as a knuckleball pitcher. It's important because at the time it blew the lid off the use of "Greenies" (amphetamines) womanizing, overdrinking, and other such habits rampant in the baseball world. Now, on its own with all of these things common knowledge, the book still reads well. There's as much in there about illegal acti Billed as one of the most (if not the most) important sports book ever, Ball Four reads as a diary of Jim Bouton's struggle to stay relevant in 1969 having reinvented himself as a knuckleball pitcher. It's important because at the time it blew the lid off the use of "Greenies" (amphetamines) womanizing, overdrinking, and other such habits rampant in the baseball world. Now, on its own with all of these things common knowledge, the book still reads well. There's as much in there about illegal activities as there is about his kids. Bouton keeps the story grounded and doesn't read like the average baseball player memoirs. Witty, informative, and smart, I reccomend it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Fantastic. Jim Bouton is an American hero. Also he invented Big League Chew. I can only hope there's someone who's as big a curmudgeon as Jim is in the big leagues now.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Jim Bouton wrote a funny, honest book about baseball. He chronicles his own struggles to re-establish his pitching career after a promising start with the New York Yankees. Worth re-reading.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    The Ghosts of Belfast review, Part III Part I http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Part II http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Part IV http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... The Troubles, continued (view spoiler)[ Casualties, continued (view spoiler)[ Violence level: comparisons to U.S. (view spoiler)[ After doing a lot of calculations and comparisons, I decided to just summarize my conclusions here. If anyone wants to see the data t The Ghosts of Belfast review, Part III Part I http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Part II http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Part IV http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... The Troubles, continued (view spoiler)[ Casualties, continued (view spoiler)[ Violence level: comparisons to U.S. (view spoiler)[ After doing a lot of calculations and comparisons, I decided to just summarize my conclusions here. If anyone wants to see the data the next spoiler section is where to look. Basically, my conclusion is that the Troubles were an unhappy time in Northern Ireland not so much because of the absolute levels of violence, but rather (at least for the people living there) because of violence levels relative to the time preceding the Troubles, and because of other aspects of the violence discussed in the next section. That this should be the case (assuming I’m correct) perhaps should not be surprising. Nevertheless, to me, it was surprising. Basically, the levels of violence (expressed numerically as homicide rates) in Northern Ireland during the years of the Troubles were either clearly below, or slightly above the rates in the U.S. as a whole. If we attempt to compare numbers for Belfast only, to American cities, then no matter what assumptions are used to produce the Belfast numbers, the rates are roughly comparable to what has been seen in many American cities for many years, and are actually far less than some rates in some cities. These facts are my reason for saying that the absolute levels of violence during the Troubles were not a sufficient cause for the “reputation” that Northern Ireland had during the Troubles. Numbers and more numbers (view spoiler)[ I estimate that the population of Northern Ireland averaged about 1.58 million people during The Troubles, based on data downloaded from http://www.nisra.gov.uk/demography/de... . Based on U.S. 10 year census figures, I estimate the U.S. population during these 33 years to have averaged 239 million. Scaling up the 107 deaths per year by the factor (239/1.58) gives 16,185 per year, or 534 thousand for 33 years in a country with the population of the U.S. Over half a million deaths. This sounds horrendous. But then I wondered what a half million deaths over a 30+ year period would mean in the U.S. So I tried to put this half-million casualty comparison in context. The first thing I was able to establish was that over the same period the U.S. had about 1.5 million traffic deaths. Okay, those are accidents, not purposeful acts of violence. A more useful comparison would simply be homicide totals. For a U.S. figure, I found (at http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/u... ) a table showing the number of murders by year in the U.S., and found that over the years 1969-2001, there were 19,900 murders per year (on average) in the U.S. To get a figure for Northern Ireland, I started with the number 3529 (the Trouble related deaths were all homicides for this purpose), but then what about the background homicides that were presumably committed but were not included in the Troubles statistics of the time? I found that there were no easily obtainable figures. Some of the reasons for this are discussed in http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/resear... , on the CAIN site. This article also mentions that Northern Ireland has in fact a very low overall crime rate, but that “although the overall crime rates are low it has a high rate of serious crime, such as homicide and robbery. These crimes are almost exclusively associated with terrorism and the "troubles". This statement would seem to indicate that the number 3529 could just be used as the homicide total for Northern Ireland; although one wonders about the phrase “almost exclusively”. I decided to use two totals for Northern Ireland; the above total, and a second one that would be the sum of that number and a background homicide rate that I would estimate as best I could. Unfortunately, the best I was able to do was to use a vague and unattributed statement in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in... that Northern Ireland “nowadays” averages “3-4 murders a month”. That would be roughly 42 per year “nowadays”. But “nowadays” Northern Ireland has a population of about 1.8 million (2010), so the 42 per year is equivalent to 37 per year in the lower population era of the Troubles. So total one for Northern Ireland homicides (during the Troubles) will be 107 per year, and total two will be (very tentatively) 144 per year. Homicide rates for years 1969-2001, per 100,000 population U.S. 19,900/2390 = 8.3 Northern Ireland 1 107/15.8 = 6.8 Northern Ireland 2 144/15.8 = 9.1 Recent Homicide rates, per 100,000 population Northern Ireland “nowadays” 42/18 = 2.3 U.S., 2000-2011 5.5 (The latter estimate based on a median value of 16189 U.S. homicides in those years, and an average population of ~295 million.) Finally, I’ll just throw out some homicide rates for cities. These numbers are all for different time periods (that’s the data I was able to find), but the figures for U.S. cities are simply numbers available on the web. I had to make assumptions for the Belfast figure, which are given below if anyone cares. Louisville is mentioned above as comparable in size to Metropolitan Belfast. Philadelphia and Houston bracket (in population) the population of Northern Ireland. Homicide rates for urban areas, per 100,000 population Belfast A 1969-2001 7.8 Belfast B same 10.1 Belfast C same 10.5 Belfast D same 12.9 Houston TX 1999-2011 13.3 Louisville KY 1999-2002 13.7 Philadelphia 1990-2010 25.0 Belfast estimates (view spoiler)[ The main information I used in making these estimates is from Belfast demographics, where it is stated that, after experiencing huge growth in the first half of the twentieth century, “This rise slowed and peaked around the start of the Troubles with the 1971 census showing almost 600,000 people in the Belfast Urban Area. Since then, the inner city numbers have dropped dramatically as people have moved to swell the Greater Belfast suburb population. The 2001 census population within the same Urban Area, had fallen to 277,391 people, with 579,554 people living in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area.” From this statement, it is possible to make a rough estimate (based on average population at the approximate start and end of the period) of the populations of the Belfast Urban area (inner city) and the Belfast Metropolitan area (greater Belfast) for the years of the Troubles. For the Urban area we average 600,000 and 277,000, obtaining 438,500; and for the Metropolitan area we average 600,000 and 580,000, getting 590,000. The reason this is important is simply that the figures I’ve cited in the Belfast section for Belfast casualties are based on a sum of casualties for “North”, “South”, “East” and “West” Belfast; but I don’t know what these casualty areas encompass. Were they used as comprising pieces of the 44 square mile inner city? Or were they used as areas which more closely approximated the 370 square mile Metropolitan area? Without knowing this, I can’t assign a population estimate to the sums of these areas. And thus cannot estimate a homicide rate per 100,000. The four Belfast homicide rate estimates given above are as follows: Belfast A and Belfast B are both computed on the assumption that “Belfast casualties” are spread over the Metropolitan Belfast area. Belfast C and Belfast D assume that “Belfast casualties” occurred in the smaller urban area, having less average population, thus producing higher rates. The other variable is whether the more correct assumption is to include a background homicide rate equal to that of the “recent” Northern Ireland homicide rate. The Belfast B and Belfast D estimates do include this; the others don’t. (hide spoiler)] More of this data would be pointless. So I’ll show a bit more, just to demonstrate the pointlessness. There is no obvious correlation between city size and homicide incidence, so comparing Belfast (or Northern Ireland as a whole) to particular cities (which I started out trying to do) is meaningless. From U.S. cities by crime rate , all data from 2011, I here show the three “safest” and “most dangerous” cities, their population, and homicide rate per 100,000. This data is from a table for all U.S. cities > 250,000. Phoenix is the approximate median homicide rate in the table, and the cities in bold are shown for comparison to their rates given above. Homicide rates for U.S. cities, 2011, per 100,000 population Lincoln NE 261,000 1.5 Plano TX 265,000 1.9 El Paso TX 663,000 2.4 Louisville KY 665,000 7.2 Phoenix AZ 1,446,000 7.9 (about the median figure) Houston TX 2,144,000 9.2 Philadelphia 1.531,000 21.2 St. Louis 320,000 35.3 Detroit 713,000 48.2 New Orleans 347,000 57.6 (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] Worst aspects of the Troubles violence (view spoiler)[ In the last section I concluded that it was not the level of violence that made the Troubles such a difficult time for the people of Northern Ireland, but rather other aspects of what was going on. In the following table (of course it’s not really a table, no such thing as far as I know), I list several differences between typical urban violence in the U.S., and the sectarian violence of the Troubles. For each difference, the form of that issue which would probably be most disturbing to normal citizens has been put in bold. You may notice a pattern. U.S. - Perpetrators usually know victims Tr – Much less often the case U.S. - Guns usually used as weapon; bombs never Tr - Bombs often used U.S. - Gang members target members of opposing gangs Tr - Paramilitary organizations target the communities/civilians of the other side U.S. - Reasons for most violence personal or crime/gang related Tr - Reasons for violence sectarian / political U.S. - Object simply to kill Tr - Object often to brutalize and inflict pain U.S. - Communities usually sit apart from the fray Tr - Communities are the prime target of the violence U.S. - Terrorist goals and tactics non-existent Tr - Terrorist goals and tactics prevalent U.S. - Rare Punishment killings Tr - Much more frequent punishment killings As summarized in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trou... The Troubles' impact on the ordinary people of Northern Ireland produced such psychological trauma that the city of Belfast had been compared to London during the Blitz. The stress resulting from bomb attacks, street disturbances, security checkpoints, and the constant military presence had the strongest effect on children and young adults. There was also the fear that local paramilitaries instilled in their respective communities with the punishment beatings, "romperings", and the occasional tarring-and-feathering meted out to individuals for various infractions committed against the community. (Note: “Rompering” was a UDA slang term for a torture session followed by death – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Ogi... ) (hide spoiler)] In memoriam (view spoiler)[ Right, this isn’t much of a memorial. Well, it is what it is. This section refers to two lists, and concludes with a third. The first list (at http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/i... ) shows all Trouble incidents in which five or more victims died, arranged chronologically (26 June 1970 through 15 August 1998). The list includes one incident of only four casualties, the August 1979 bombing of a boat off county Sligo in which Lord Mountbatten was killed; and a second incident which was almost certainly caused accidentally (the June 1994 crash of a helicopter carrying the 25 top anti-terrorist experts in Northern Ireland and a crew of four, on their way to a conference in Scotland. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Sco... In this list there are 438 total killings catalogued, not counting the helicopter accident and the 2 unborn killed in Omagh in 1998. Thus these most deadly incidents account for less than 1/8 (!!) of the total number of casualties during the Troubles. If we were to assume that all remaining incidents averaged 2 killings per incident, the table would include another 1500 entries and would be 30 times bigger. Consider that. The second list, a Timeline of the Troubles (at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline... ) is a compendium of “the major violent and political incidents” during the Troubles. This is also arranged chronologically. Going through this list I extracted links to compile the third list below. This list references all Wiki articles mentioned in the Timeline which describe a violent incident. Some of these incidents involve fewer than five casualties. Nevertheless, they were significant to the person or persons responsible for the article. Many other incidents involving more casualties are mentioned in the Timeline, but are not included here because there is no reference to a special article about the incident. Violent Incidents of the Troubles Burntollet ambush 4 Jan 69 (unknown number wounded) “the spark that lit the prairie fire” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burntollet Battle of the Bogside 12-14 Aug 69 (1000+ wounded) two days of near continuous rioting in Derry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_o... Northern Ireland riots of August 1969 14-17 Aug 69 (8 killed, 130+ treated for gunshot wounds). British Army deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern... Falls Curfew 3-5 July 70 (5 killed, 60 injured, 300 arrested; 15 soldiers shot) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falls_Cu... Three Scottish soldiers killings 9 Mar 71 (3 killed) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sc... Ballymurphy massacre 9-11 Aug 71 (11 killed) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballymur... McGurk's Bar bombing 4 Dec 71 (15 killed, 17 wounded) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGurk%2... Balmoral Furniture Company bombing 11 Dec 71 (4 killed, 19 wounded) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1971_Bal... Bloody Sunday 30 Jan 72 (27 unarmed civilians shot by British Army, 14 killed) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_S... Aldershot bombing 22 Feb 72 (7 killed) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1972_Ald... Abercorn Restaurant bombing 4 Mar 72 (2 killed, 130 wounded) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abercorn... 1972 Donegall Street bombing 20 Mar 72 (7 killed, 148 wounded) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1972_Don... Battle at Springmartin 13-14 May 72 (7 killed) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_a... Springhill Massacre 9 July 72 (5 killed, 2 wounded by British snipers) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springhi... Bloody Friday 21 July 72 (9 killed, 130 injured by 22 PIRA bombs) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_F... Claudy bombing 31 July 72 (9 civilians killed) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudy_b... 1973 Coleraine bombings 12 June 73 (6 civilians killed, 33 wounded by PIRA car bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_Col... 1973 Coleraine bombings 4 Feb 74 (12 killed by PIRA bomb on bus in West Yorkshire) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M62_coac... Dublin and Monaghan bombings 17 May 74 (33 killed, 300 wounded by four UVF bombs) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin_a... Guildford pub bombings 5 Oct 74 (5 killed by two PIRA bombs in Guildford, England) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guildfor... Birmingham pub bombings 21 Nov 74 (21 killed in two pubs in Birmingham England) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingh... Miami Showband massacre 31 July 75 (5 killed at bogus military checkpoint) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_Sh... Bayardo Bar attack 13 Aug 75 (5 killed by PIRA gun and bomb attack) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayardo_... Drummuckavall Ambush 22 Nov 75 (3 British Army soldiers killed by PIRA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drummuck... Balcombe Street Siege 6 Dec 75 (hostages for six days in a London apartment by PIRA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balcombe... Reavey and O'Dowd killings 4 Jan 76 (6 civilians killed by UVF) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reavey_a... Kingsmill massacre 5 Jan 76 (10 civilians killed by South Armagh Republican Action Force) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsmil... Chlorane Bar attack 5 June 76 (5 civilians killed by UVF) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorane... Ramble Inn attack 2 July 76 (6 civilians killed by UVF) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramble_I... La Mon restaurant bombing 17 Feb 78 (12 killed, 30 wounded by PIRA incendiary bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Mon_r... Warrenpoint ambush 27 Aug 79 (18 British Army soldiers killed by PIRA roadside bombs) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrenpo... Dunmurry train explosion 17 Jan 80 (3 killed, 5 injured by PIRA bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunmurry... Glasdrumman ambush 17 Jan 80 (1 killed, 1 injured by PIRA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasdrum... Hyde Park and Regent's Park bombings 20 July 82 (11 British soldiers killed, many spectators injured by PIRA bombs) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyde_Par... Droppin Well bombing 6 Dec 82 (17 killed by INLA time bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droppin_... Harrods bombing 17 Dec 83 (6 killed, 90 injured by PIRA car bomb in London) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrods_... Brighton hotel bombing 12 Oct 84 (5 killed by PIRA bomb attack in England) Margaret and Denis Thatcher narrowly escaped injury at the Conservative Party Conference being held. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brighton... Newry mortar attack 28 Feb 85 (9 RUC officers killed, 37 wounded by PIRA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_New... Attack on Ballygawley barracks 7 Dec 85 (2 RUC officers killed by PIRA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_o... Loughgall Ambush 8 May 87 (8 PIRA, one civilian killed by Special Air Service) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loughgal... Remembrance Day bombing 8 Nov 87 (“Poppy Day Massacre”; 12 killed, 63 wounded by PIRA bomb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembra... Operation Flavius 6 Mar 88 (3 unarmed PIRA killed by SAS in Gibraltar) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operatio... Milltown Cemetery attack 16 Mar 88 (3 killed, 60 wounded by lone Loyalist at funeral) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milltown... (continued in Part IV) (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    I have read dozens of baseball books before getting around to “Ball Four,” and I wish I had read Bouton’s book earlier. I really enjoyed the telling of the escapades of a major leaguer (and for a few days, a minor leaguer) over the course of a season. Bouton tells the story of his time with the Seattle Pilots and their farm club as well as his mid-season trade to the Houston Astros in 1969. I felt an affinity to Bouton and the Pilots – I started collecting baseball cards from that season and got I have read dozens of baseball books before getting around to “Ball Four,” and I wish I had read Bouton’s book earlier. I really enjoyed the telling of the escapades of a major leaguer (and for a few days, a minor leaguer) over the course of a season. Bouton tells the story of his time with the Seattle Pilots and their farm club as well as his mid-season trade to the Houston Astros in 1969. I felt an affinity to Bouton and the Pilots – I started collecting baseball cards from that season and got the one year’s worth of Pilots before they moved and changed names. As a beginner baseball fan, by the next season I had quickly learned that teams were transient. I enjoyed Bouton’s diary-like description of his season. You got the impression he was stealing time away from his job and his family time to write, so you get some summaries along the way. Beyond the “boys will be boys” type of stories about his fellow players, he also includes his thoughts of baseball management throughout the book. He spends quite a bit of time analyzing the managers, and you sense Bounton feels he needs to understand his managers to their fullest in order to excel in his own craft of pitching knuckleballs. You understand he is correct by the end. I liked the many funny stories. The humor holds up after decades. The longest sections were probably the ones about the players union. These weren’t as interesting, but Bouton had decided to act as a journalist, so he covered the serious as well as the funny stories in this season. As I mentioned, I have read many other baseball books, most written after “Ball Four” and many detailing a season with the same kinds of funny stories. Some of these other books I would say I enjoyed reading even more than “Ball Four” – they tended to be more consistently funny and outrageous (like, say Dirk Hayhurst’s first). Ah, the fate of an early classic – followers can take the best of the formula and make it even better. I read an updated version of “Ball Four” with extra chapters describing author Bouton’s life in subsequent years. This was quite a valuable addition. The stories are of a wiser person. I was glad to see my neighborhood mentioned when talking about Bouton’s invention of Big League Chew chewing gum. The plant he mentions visiting in the book was about a mile away from where I currently live, and I’ve been told that when that plant was making Big League Chew our neighborhood smelled like bubble gum. They tore down that factory the year I moved here, so I missed it. The very last chapter detailing the loss of Bouton’s daughter is truly heartbreaking. I felt it changed the mood of the entire book from a mostly upbeat tone to a more melancholic and reflective one. By adding those extra chapters, Bouton turns a comedic book into one that reflects his entire life. After reading this, I feel more inclined to read Bouton’s other works.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    My mom recently tried to read Bouton's baseball diary, but couldn't get past March 7. I picked it up and am rereading it yet again, enjoying it as much as ever. I've read it more than 20 times and it still means so much to me. If any book could be said to have changed my life, it would be this one. Bouton was an iconoclast, a breed apart from most other ballplayers, and not just because he read books that didn't have pictures. He spoke up for himself, he stuck to his guns (even as he knew it was My mom recently tried to read Bouton's baseball diary, but couldn't get past March 7. I picked it up and am rereading it yet again, enjoying it as much as ever. I've read it more than 20 times and it still means so much to me. If any book could be said to have changed my life, it would be this one. Bouton was an iconoclast, a breed apart from most other ballplayers, and not just because he read books that didn't have pictures. He spoke up for himself, he stuck to his guns (even as he knew it was costing him professionally), and he did it with a sense of humor. And even in a working world that held different values that his and often kept him at arm's length, he still found like-minded people and made friends. Ball Four is funny, raunchy, aggravating, heartening, and above all *real*. Full disclosure: I once wrote Bouton a letter telling him what the book had meant to me growing up. At the end of the week he called me up and told me how much my letter had meant to him. Now how could you not appreciate a writer who takes the time to do that?

  23. 5 out of 5

    TCPils

    Ball Four by Jim Bouton has been hailed as a groundbreaking exposè that opened the hidden side of baseball to the general public. The sports world is said to have been "shocked" and "outraged" by the goings on behind the scenes that were previously unknown to the outside world. Really?! Young men engage in locker room hijinks, drink to excess and chase skirts. Ho-hum. Even in 1970 when it was written it shouldn't have raised an eyebrow. I'd be shocked if they sat around the locker room singing K Ball Four by Jim Bouton has been hailed as a groundbreaking exposè that opened the hidden side of baseball to the general public. The sports world is said to have been "shocked" and "outraged" by the goings on behind the scenes that were previously unknown to the outside world. Really?! Young men engage in locker room hijinks, drink to excess and chase skirts. Ho-hum. Even in 1970 when it was written it shouldn't have raised an eyebrow. I'd be shocked if they sat around the locker room singing Kumbaya, but acting like typical young men is certainly no reason to get your bowels in an uproar. Bouton whines for 400 pages about not being allowed to play in as many ballgames as he would like to. Even though he's an over the hill one trick pony. He can throw a knuckleball. That's it. A knuckleball. And it's inconsistent. Sorry Jim, you're lucky to have lasted as long as you did. This is the 20th anniversary edition, published in 1990 and it hadn't aged well even then. In 2015 is is merely irrelevant.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Richard Luck

    As a baseball enthusiast rather than hardcore fan, I've long viewed the claims that Ball Four is among the greatest non-fiction books of the 21st century with some suspicion. Not for the first time, I couldn't be more delighted to be proved completely wrong. In addition to recommending Bouton's memoir, might I also speak up for the excellent audiobook which features the author's delightful tones. From laughing at his - admittedly superb - jokes to shedding tears over the hardest of losses, it's As a baseball enthusiast rather than hardcore fan, I've long viewed the claims that Ball Four is among the greatest non-fiction books of the 21st century with some suspicion. Not for the first time, I couldn't be more delighted to be proved completely wrong. In addition to recommending Bouton's memoir, might I also speak up for the excellent audiobook which features the author's delightful tones. From laughing at his - admittedly superb - jokes to shedding tears over the hardest of losses, it's shear joy to be in the company of this free-thinking, bighearted and hopelessly honest athlete.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Never having read a baseball book before, I enjoyed of Ball Four for the novelty, in addition to its interesting anecdotes and the truth of the reality of baseball. It was also cool to see the contrast of baseball and book writing between then and now.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    could not finish. too full of himslef

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Just couldn't get into this one...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Donald

    I first read Ball Four in high school. Now, after Bouton’s recent passing, I decided to re-read it to see how it holds up. The short answer is: surprisingly well. When the book was first published it was scandalous and ruffled a lot of feathers. Bouton broke the code of “what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.” He spoke of players using speed (“greenies”), staying out late and getting drunk and playing the next day with a hangover, groupies and affairs on the road, etc. These I first read Ball Four in high school. Now, after Bouton’s recent passing, I decided to re-read it to see how it holds up. The short answer is: surprisingly well. When the book was first published it was scandalous and ruffled a lot of feathers. Bouton broke the code of “what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.” He spoke of players using speed (“greenies”), staying out late and getting drunk and playing the next day with a hangover, groupies and affairs on the road, etc. These revelations were news to fans, and outraged other players, not to mention the commissioner of baseball. (Reading the book now in 2019, I had to keep reminding myself that these revelations were not common knowledge back in 1970. They were shocking.) But 50 years after its first publication, the book has taken on new meaning, which really demonstrates how the game has changed. For one, this book was written five or so years before free agency hit MLB; owners still had complete control over their players, and salaries were so low that many players still had to get off-season jobs. Bouton describes the nickel-and-diming that went on behind the scenes, players fighting management for an extra $1,000 (a year!) in salary, Bouton even had to fight the Seattle Pilots over $88 in damage they claim he did to a clubhouse door. Because he couldn't afford it. Times sure have changed, with the multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts that players now receive, and their ability to choose, for the most part, where they want to play. The other thing that I found fascinating was Bouton’s description of his managers and coaches. They came off as company men who had put in their time and were rewarded with coaching jobs when their playing careers ended, and were not of much use except to spout cliches to their players. Nowadays coaching staffs have gotten younger, and the rise of analytics has completely changed the sport and made the coaching jobs more important, and demand more work and knowledge. Another thing that Bouton touches on is race relations. Back then it was mostly how blacks and whites got along (don't forget this was right after the Civil Rights Movement and MLK's assassination), especially when it came to hanging out after games and who to pick for roommates (do players still even have roommates now?). Modern baseball has players from all over the world, especially Latin American countries and Japan. So not only are bilingual managers and coaches needed, but most teams also have interpreters. Besides all these new ways that the book has become interesting, the writing is still just downright funny and intelligent—and honest. Bouton actually wrote a follow-up to Ball Four titled I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally, which I will be reading next.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bryan--Pumpkin Connoisseur

    Ball Four maintains a reputation even today as being a groundbreaking book: Sports Illustrated has it as number three on its list of the 100 best sports books ever. As far as 'groundbreaking', I think it deserves its rep, but the thing about groundbreaking is that it's never very long before it's surpassed by others who build on the shocking or outrageous nature of what's come before. So I think that anyone approaching Ball Four with the idea that they are going to have their socks knocked off a Ball Four maintains a reputation even today as being a groundbreaking book: Sports Illustrated has it as number three on its list of the 100 best sports books ever. As far as 'groundbreaking', I think it deserves its rep, but the thing about groundbreaking is that it's never very long before it's surpassed by others who build on the shocking or outrageous nature of what's come before. So I think that anyone approaching Ball Four with the idea that they are going to have their socks knocked off are probably going to be amazed at how tame it seems today. That's not to take away from its status; I found Ball Four to be a lot of fun, but I grew up in Jim Bouton's era, and the players he talks about were the ones I knew of when I still idolized baseball. In fact, what caused me to buy the book in the first place--after hemming and hawing for a bit--was a quote from the introduction. Bouton got a lot of grief after publishing the book, and during one game, heard Pete Rose holler at him from the opposing team's dugout: "**** you, Shakespeare!" At that moment, I shut the book and took it up to the counter to buy. Enough has been said about the book's contents that I think I can safely get away with simply saying it is Bouton's diary of his 1969 season with the expansion Seattle Pilots (which later became the Milwaukee Brewers) and the Houston Astros. The difference between this and the diary-style books that had come before was that Bouton didn't whitewash the story--not only did he give the lowdown on women and drugs in the sport, but also the relations between players and management, and on the player's attitudes toward the sport. Of all Bouton's revelations, I think its the last that's most surprising to me, although it isn't the first time I've been made aware of it. Every time I'm confronted with the fact that the players look at it like a job (which it is) rather than from fan's standpoint, it surprises me. It's always hard to reconcile my interest with their (mostly) dispassionate, professional approach. But for the most part, there was little else in Ball Four that should come as a surprise to anyone these days. In fact, though I think he was honest about what was going on, I have the nagging suspicion--after modern tell-alls like Juiced, and the no-hitter that Dock Ellis threw in 1970 while supposedly under the influence of LSD--that there was even more that Bouton wasn't telling us. It was the late sixties after all. But the picture that eventually emerges is still very boyish, even without the whitewash. It seems as if baseball was still extremely conservative at the time, both the players and the management--conservative in values and conservative as in resisting change. For a book who's reputation rests on blowing the lid of the image of baseball as something taking place on Elysian Fields, what emerges reading it today is a picture of an age still rooted in 1950's America, though looking ahead toward the coming changes. Recommended mostly for those readers who grew up in this period, and can recognize the players that Bouton mentions, or for those who would like a glimpse into what baseball looked like in the late sixties.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John-Paul

    Like a lot of people, the first baseball book I enjoyed was Michael Lewis' "Moneyball." That book's depiction of the way that "baseball men," like all men who have given themselves to an institution and convinced themselves that said institution has given them everything of value in their lives, make almost all their of decisions based on fear, habit, nostalgia, and misplaced loyalty. They do what they do because (they think) that's the way it's always been done (even though that's not true and Like a lot of people, the first baseball book I enjoyed was Michael Lewis' "Moneyball." That book's depiction of the way that "baseball men," like all men who have given themselves to an institution and convinced themselves that said institution has given them everything of value in their lives, make almost all their of decisions based on fear, habit, nostalgia, and misplaced loyalty. They do what they do because (they think) that's the way it's always been done (even though that's not true and even though the world has changed and new methods may be required). Such men are very good at rejecting any idea or fact that may challenge their worldview. "Ball Four" is another book about such men. However, "Moneyball" is about a General Manager who learns how to be cold and scientific about evaluating player skills and who does all he can to pay them as little as possible; "Ball Four" is about a player who tries to prove how valuable he is and tries to get paid as much as possible. It is, therefore, a much more humane book. It can be repetitive, as every other entry seems to have a part about "I'm still trying to get the feel for my knuckleball but Schultz won't let me get a start because he thinks knuckleball pitchers should only be used in certain situations," but that's what it's like to be a baseball player, or anyone with talent and a job and small-minded superiors. Apparently a lot of players were angered by "Ball Four." The standard complaint was Jim Bouton aired a lot of dirty laundry about adultery, voyeurism, and amphetamine use. That's almost certainly overblown--who doesn't know about that kind of stuff, and who cares that much? The real problem is that Bouton never directly implicates himself: I don't recall any direct reference to him taking a greenie or nailing a Baseball Annie. He probably told himself that he's guilty by implication, but it reads more like he's lifting the veil while making sure it still covers his own ass. I think, however, that the anger has more to do with Bouton's depiction of his fellow ballplayers as simpletons and stooges. Bouton has some intelligence and education, and thus is viewed with some (deserved) suspicion by the guys. Several of his anecdotes are about a player saying something stupid or showing that he doesn't understand something. On the other hand, Bouton writes a lot about money and money struggles, including his attempts not only be paid what he think he deserves but to shake his teammates out of their false consciousness. (The book takes place mostly in 1968, pre-free-agency.) Bouton is in many ways a typical labor-union-liberal, attempting to educate the workers about their own capacity to change their conditions. He's also progressive on race and skeptical about religion while at the same time being obsessed with "beaver" and mocking "homos." There's a "M*A*S*H"/"Animal House" feel to a lot of it. In the edition I read, there were several updates and afterwords and I found them a lot less interesting because they weren't about being a baseball player.

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