Posted by Dan Draney on September 24, 2005
Tim McCarver, baseball sportscaster and former player, lists his picks for the five best books about baseball on OpinionJournal. I went to the page wondering if my favorite baseball book would make his list, and, indeed, there it is at number 1 with a bullet:
“1. ‘Ball Four’ by Jim Bouton (World, 1970).
Jim Bouton’s ‘Ball Four’ was a terrifically revealing book, and for writing it he was ostracized by the baseball establishment–both by the players and by Bowie Kuhn, the baseball commissioner at the time. He’d kept a diary about his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and the Houston Astros–material filled with locker-room stories and other forbidden topics. It was hilarious stuff. Now here it is 35 years later, and it all seems so tame–so innocent! The innocence is one of the book’s charms today. But back when it first appeared, and this says something about where we’ve come, it was like ‘Peyton Place.'”
I absolutely loved this book when I read it in the early 70s. I got it from my brother, who got it from a friend. It was huge fun. I still have a copy of the sequel, “I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally,” which is what everyone in baseball did when he wrote it. While not as funny as the first, the sequel held its own.
I’m really going to have to read “Ball Four” again.