Pushing 40 and shopping around for ""a reason to enter the second half of his life,"" Jim Bouton stretched for a few extra innings and resolved to get back into baseball. ""The impossible dream burned inside him like an eternal flame"" according to sportswriter Pluto, who rhapsodizes in shameless hyperbole on the ""romance"" of its fulfillment. Pluto covered the summer of '78 on the Braves' Savannah farm-club, where Bouton and a now-and-again knuckleball finally ""consummated"" their ""marriage"" on the mound; his September rise to the majors pitching for Atlanta vindicated his pursuit of a ""fountain of youth,"" costs notwithstanding. Bouton wanted kudos for gratifying his own obsession: he'd been such a good trouper in the bush leagues the year before, when establishment-baseball held his age, rustiness, and treasonous Ball Four against him; then, once the maverick new owner of the Braves let him into the system, he'd worked his way up--what if he stepped on toes and went over heads to stay there? Surprisingly, Pluto projects an often self-righteous and always self-indulgent Bouton, well-enough connected and financed to play out an option he didn't actually have; but Pluto also wills Bouton into even more of a hero (""a natural wonder or a miracle"") than he's likely to make of himself in his own inevitable book. Wait.