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Foul Ball: My Life and Hard Times Trying to Save an Old Ballpark, Plus Part Two Paperback – Bargain Price, September 1, 2005

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"An irresistible story whose outcome remains in doubt until the very end. Not just a funny book, but a patriotic one."--San Francisco Chronicle

"What it shares with Ball Four is Bouton's humor, his keen sense of what's right and wrong, and a remarkable tale that--if you didn't trust the author--you would find difficult to believe."
--John Feinstein

"Ball Four is a book I wanted to write. Foul Ball is a book I had to write."--Jim Bouton

"Now in his fifth decade of telling the truth no matter the consequences, Bouton proves that a badly run city government can be just as dangerous--and just as hilarious--as a badly run baseball team."
--Keith Olbermann

About the Author

JIM BOUTON was an All-Star pitcher and won twenty-one games for the New York Yankees in 1963. In 1964 he won eighteen games and beat the Cardinals twice in the World Series. His diary of the 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros-Ball Four-was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the Books of the Century, a list that included Gone with the Wind, Catch-22, and In Cold Blood. Bouton, who builds stone walls and does motivational speaking, lives in Egremont, Massachusetts, with his wife Paula Kurman.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: The Lyons Press (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592288677
  • ASIN: B001PO6B58
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,297,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Baskin on October 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Like a lot of people, I read "Ball Four" when it first came out (a real eye-opener for an 11-year-old). While it was shocking to many folks at the time, it broke the mold for how a baseball book is written, and it says much that in nearly 40 years there hasn't been anything like it since.

But "Foul Ball" comes pretty close.

Instead of trying to save his career as a major league pitcher, this time Jim Bouton is trying to save a minor league ballpark. A lot of things have happened in Bouton's life since "Ball Four," and you get caught up on a lot of that. The main thrust is that his plan to save Wahconah Park and bring a new pro baseball team to Pittsfield, Massachusetts is met by terrific enthusiasm from everyone but the people who actually run Pittsfield: The government, the bankers, General Electric and the local newspaper.

Those folks want to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to build a new ballpark on a site where GE may have dumped lots and lots of toxic chemicals (and coincidentally is owned by the same newspaper lobbying for the new stadium). Anyone with a sense of fair play will be infuriated by what happens to Bouton, his partners and the good people in Pittsfield...and there ARE good people there. Just none in the right places, apparently. My wife and I had bought GE stock for our retirement, but after reading this I dumped all our shares. No way could I remain invested in GE with a clear conscience after reading what they have done to people in Pittsfield.

Still, through it all, you'll smile at Bouton's observations and sense of humor in what becomes a Quixotic journey that anyone who has stood in the way of the powers that be will more than understand.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karl Trautman on November 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
I teach college and have used this book many times in my political science classes. My students have really enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. It is written well and has great documentation.

The story is essentially about Bouton and his business partner (and friend) Chip Elitzer's efforts to inject openess into how political decisions are made. Unfortunately, they are met with most of the typical roadblocks to political change: needless obsfucation and endless delays justified by government procedures and rules.

What makes the story so compelling is their infectous sense of humor, core optimism and sheer drive. Just when you think all is lost (which occurs early and often), there is suddenly new hope to keep their efforts alive.

Bouton's description of the colorful characters involved makes you think you know them. He shares with his readers some of his thinking about his family, politics and life in general. These observations add to the book's authenticity.

The book is also about how political power operates in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Even though there are some large political and economic forces involved (General Electric and the commonwealth of Massachusetts), the critical actors involved are people you might recognize in many small to medium sized cities: local politicians, journalists and editors of small newspapers, small business owners, local lawyers and average citizens. This allows the reader to identify the complexity, invisibility and weight of how local political power can be exercised.

Conversely, The book also reveals a very simple bias of the author: He loves the game of baseball.

It is an inspiring book which I recommend to anyone who believes in the political transparency and how it ultimately can reform our political instituions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Jacobs on December 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
There is nothing foul about saving a quaint old baseball park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The foulness comes from Pittsfield's politicians, business interests and newspaper editorials when confronted by Bouton's honesty and decency. The love of baseball in what is quite possibly the place where the game began in America prompts Bouton and a good friend to pitch an offer the residents of Pittsfield can't refuse. But a host of hidden agendas reveal themselves as Bouton and his business partner move their proposal through the decision-making process. Bouton's writing style makes the reader feel like a partner in this too-true tale that could happen in Anyplace, USA. The book is a real page-turner as Bouton's descriptions help us to know all the players and the diabolical games that are played off the field.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Reddick on January 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There's a line in the movie "The International" that `the difference between fiction and the truth is that fiction has to make sense.' Ironically, if the movie of "Foul Ball" they joke about in the book ever came to fruition it would probably be written off as going too far over the top.

"Foul Ball" isn't a baseball book per say you don't get (too many) funny stories from Bouton's playing days, but the topics of democracy, politicians, newspapers, and hidden agendas that are encountered perhaps make it even more clear why we all need baseball so much. As well as make the story more meaningful.

This updated "Part II" version adds a great deal to the story, which seems like it's all coming from some fictitious town until the pictures are shown. My only (very minor) complaint is that there aren't more of those pictures.

This extended version still leaves one wondering "What if?" but even if somebody made that part up, it probably wouldn't be as entertaining.
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