BALL FOUR, PLUS BALL FIVE: An Update, 1970-1980 by Jim Bouton

BALL FOUR, PLUS BALL FIVE: An Update, 1970-1980

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KIRKUS REVIEW

First published a decade ago, Bouton's day-by-day report on a long season with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros became the best-selling baseball book of all time--and the progenitor of a candid, even blasphemous new breed of sports chronicles. Now the original text, teamed with a brief account of Bouton's further peccadillos, is set for a comeback. An all-star pitcher and World Series hero with the Yankees during the early 1960s, Bouton suffered arm troubles that landed him in the minors. While playing in the bush leagues, he developed a knuckler (thrown with the fingertips) to replace his lost fastball and caught on as a reliever in 1969 with the Pilots, an expansion team whose roster combined over-the-hill veterans with unproven rookies. An articulate and outspoken sort, Bouton found it difficult to play ball with front-office types, field managers, or other powers that be; his intellectual pretensions also caused friction with teammates. But his diary, happily, delivered anecdotes, not angst. ""Okay, all you guys, look horny,"" a coach advises his charges as they are about to deplane and meet wives or girlfriends following a two-week road trip. And in a bar one night, a hard-drinking catcher confides: ""I found I can't play if I feel good. I've got to have a little bit of a hangover to get the best out of me."" Essentially good natured and unchallenged as to accuracy, Bouton's naming-names disclosures nonetheless proved a severe shock for the baseball establishment. No tremors will result from the ""Ball Five"" addendum--a short-and-bittersweet summary of his post-publication life, which encompasses a marital breakup, work as a local TV personality, a supporting role in The Long Goodbye, and, mirabile dictu, a semi-triumphant return to the majors (with the Atlanta Braves) after seven years in retirement. Ball Four, in short, is the main attraction here--and every bit as good the second time around.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1981
Publisher: Stein & Day