Picture of author.
8+ Works 1,781 Membros 48 Críticas 2 Favorited

About the Author

James Alan Bouton was born in Newark on March 8, 1939. He started out playing American Legion ball, trying to perfect his knuckleball pitch. He graduated from Bloom High School in Chicago Heights, Ill. He spent a year at Western Michigan University before he was signed by the Yankees in December mostrar mais 1958. He made it to the big leagues in 1962. He was a pitcher of modest achievement who wrote the baseball tell all book - Ball Four in 1970. It told of selfishness, dopiness, childishness and meanspiritedness of young men often lionized for playing a boy¿s game very well, and many readers saw it, approvingly or not, as a scandalous betrayal of the baseball clubhouse. The book was his account of the 1969 baseball season, seven years after his big-league debut with the Yankees. It was also his attempt at age 30 to salvage a once-promising career by developing the game¿s most peculiar and least predictable pitch: the knuckleball. He later wrote his follow -up book I¿m Glad You Didn¿t Take It Personally. James Alan Bouton passed away on July 10, 2019 at the age of 80 after a long struggle with vascular dementia. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos
Image credit: jimbouton.com

Obras por Jim Bouton

Associated Works

Baseball: A Literary Anthology (2002) — Contribuidor — 334 exemplares
Murderers' Row (2001) — Prefácio — 37 exemplares
Gallery, July 1973, Volume 1 Number 9 (1973) — Interview — 1 exemplar

Etiquetado

Conhecimento Comum

Membros

Críticas

I’ve recently gotten back into baseball for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me yet. It may have something to do with MLB’s recent rule changes making for a more exciting game, or the fact that my hometown Orioles are good again for the first time in what feels like forever. Baseball is the sport most prone to induce obsession. By that I don’t mean fanaticism - plenty of sports have fanatics, and I would venture to say others have more fanatics than baseball does. But there is something about the historical depth of baseball that attracts a certain type of person.

In a way, every game of baseball is a conversation with its history. It’s America’s oldest professional sport, and sometimes it really shows its age. On lists of the greatest players ever, there will be no shortage of those born in the 19th century. Everyday of the season, games are played in 100 year old stadiums. On TV, stat lines are constantly being compared to what came before. Trends are identified and analyzed with mathematical precision. Every few years a new type of stat is come up with, and it is used to reassess the entire history of the game. Innovations are rare, and are often views as heretical by a sizable portion of the players and fan base. Go to any ball game and you find some old timers keeping track of each at bat with a pencil and paper, despite the fact that every measure has long been digitalized down to the decimal point. If you just want to see some guys smash into each other or forum real fast, all of this is meaningless baggage. But if you are interested in data and history, reading about the game and its players can be as much of a pastime as the game itself.

I happen to fall into the latter camp. I was reading about one particularly interesting aspect of baseball history when I came across this book: the knuckleball. The knuckleball has an almost mystical aura, so much so that the men who have learned to use it are almost members of a secret society. In a league where the 100 mph fastball thrown with pinpoint precision is the platonic ideal, the knuckleball is an anomaly. It’s slow, inaccurate, and unpredictable, so much so that catchers have to practice catching it. The knuckleball’s cache lies in the fact that in a game where pattern recognition is everything, a certain degrees of randomness is an advantage. A knuckleball can move anywhere and any which way, and the average hitter simply doesn’t know how to respond.

This book, Ball Four, besides being seen as classic, is also an invaluable document of knuckleball pitching. In it Bouton documents his struggle with the Knuckle Goblin, a name I just made up for the force which rules whether a knuckleball will or won’t accomplish its goal. Bouton himself is constantly bewildered by what his chosen pitch decides to do. In a game so meticulously quantified and strategized, it’s things like the knuckleball that keep games from turning into a math equation.

Much praise has been lauded on this book as being the first of its kind, the first to break down the manicured artifice of the Major League player, the first to show what goes into the sausage so to speak. Though many are not keen to admit it, our sports are still a product for consumption, and the way that Bouton shows himself, his fellow players, and the league, isn’t flattering. You gotta admire the cahones on the guy: unlike lots of other tell alls, there is no anonymity granted here - he names names and shows receipts. It’s no surprise that he became persona non grata in the MLB after the book’s publication.

For works whose main attribute is being groundbreaking, it’s difficult to stand the test of time. What might have felt like revelations in Bouton’s time have long since permeated into the popular consciousness of how we view athletes in our culture. We no longer expect professional athletes to be upstanding role models, in fact we might anticipate the exact opposite. (I say that with no nostalgia- the point of Bouton’s book is that we never should have looked at our athletes that way ) Since the ground that was broken has long since be ground to dust, this book is robbed of a little bit of its power. There is also the question of Bouton’s prose - he was obviously a very good writer for being a baseball player, but that’s not a high standard. HIs prose is rather like his role in his team: respectable, hardworking, but not spectacular. This is a diary and feels like one.
… (mais)
 
Assinalado
hdeanfreemanjr | 38 outras críticas | Jan 29, 2024 |
This 50th anniversary edition with several postscripts and an introduction by Bouton's second (and last) wife, will make you laugh and cry. You'll laugh at the baseball side, such as Bouton's teammate Mike Hegan saying it was hard to explain to his wife why she needed a shot of penicillin for his "kidney infection". You'll cry reading Bouton's emotional account of the death of his daughter in a car accident. At least you'll cry if you have any kids of your own. Throughout the book, you'll notice a few instances of Bouton perhaps overstating his accomplishments a wee bit, such as adding 1 to his number of victories in Savannah, but overall he comes across as smart, perceptive, and likable. The original Ball Four was as controversial for Bouton's out-of-step liberal political views as it was for revealing the less-than-heroic truths about players such as Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. It's clear that Bouton loved baseball, however, continuing to play it at some level as long as he was able. (I don't must mean the major and minor leagues, but playing for amateur teams as he aged.) Also, after reading about the cheapskate owners he encountered, you may not feel so bad about today's players' astronomical salaries. Or at least you can reason, as Bouton did, that it's less bad for the players to get all the money than for the owners to get it. In any case, this is highly recommended. If you're a baseball fan, be prepared to spend several hours looking up everyone who is mentioned on the baseball-reference website. It will give you a further appreciation for just how perilous and ephemeral a career in baseball could be.… (mais)
½
 
Assinalado
datrappert | 38 outras críticas | Jul 13, 2023 |
Jim Bouton’s classic and entertaining tell-all book made from his diary written during his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers) and the Houston Astros. There was a huge uproar when it was published - how dare he mention Mickey Mantle’s drinking!? - and Bouton was persona non grata especially with his old team the Yankees for many years, and for some he still is - just read the other reviews here. The book is, of course, about baseball, but it is also about Bouton’s coming to grips with his own inadequacies and, maybe, learning about the nature of workplace sociology. Because, to me, this book only happens to be set on a baseball team; the facts are familiar to anyone who works anywhere, and that is why it remains popular. In a sense Bouton plays an innocent who is shocked to discover that his boss is interested in his own job, not Bouton’s. He is angry that the team won’t pay him as much as he thinks he is worth. He is mad that middle management is incompetent and that they get their jobs because they don’t give the big boss a hard time. Well, that’s how it is and how it will be. The book’s success also owes something to the fact that it appeared around the time of the coming of free-agency in baseball - and serves as a reminder that the only power at the bottom is through organization.… (mais)
1 vote
Assinalado
markm2315 | 38 outras críticas | Jul 1, 2023 |
Took forever to read, mostly because it didn’t hold my interest. The only reason I finally finished it is because I had a lot of new books come in over the holidays that I wanted to read, so I had to conclude this one. It’s basically snippets from other books about certain managers and then a page or two from Bouton about said manager. Nothing groundbreaking or earth shattering, just a few ok baseball stories. This one goes back to the used bookshop.
 
Assinalado
MrMet | 2 outras críticas | Apr 28, 2023 |

Listas

Prémios

You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Estatísticas

Obras
8
Also by
3
Membros
1,781
Popularidade
#14,460
Avaliação
4.0
Críticas
48
ISBN
34
Marcado como favorito
2

Tabelas & Gráficos