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on September 6, 2017
A very real, very funny and very touching view of baseball from the inside. It's hard to imagine now what an important book this was when it was written, but it really did pull the curtain back on professional baseball. First time that had been done in any sport. Strongly recommended for any ball fan.
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on April 1, 2014
Back in 1970, when the book was released, it made a huge controversial splash because it was the first honest work about inside the professional baseball culture. Compared to today's tell-all memoirs, however, it's pretty tame stuff. There are funny situations, some sprinkles of profanity, and references to sexual escapades, but mostly the book covers Mr. Bouton's struggles at 30 years of age to remain worthy of playing in Major League baseball. Man, I bet my left nut that I will never read another book in my entire life that uses the word 'knuckleball' so often.

I am a 53-year-old guy who rarely watches any sporting event; let alone an entire game. In my younger days, many many moons ago, I loved playing baseball, basketball, soccer and whatnot, but watching the stuff never held my interest. With that said, I found Mr. Bouton's one-year memoir to be entertaining and highly informative. About a third of the athletes mentioned I knew; Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, and the 1960s Boston Red Sox players such as Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Cognigliaro and George Scott because being a kid living in Maine and NOT a Red Sox fan was flirting with a death wish. Most of the players the author worked alongside didn't even sound remotely familiar. Mr. Bouton exposed such undignified things as drug usage, "beaver-shooting," sexual infidelity, greedy baseball owners, many athlete's being constantly insecure about their worthiness, and clueless coaches as well as managers. I had to keep reminding myself that these man-children were young guys in their twenties and many of them were not the brightest bulbs in the brain department. The book certainly destroyed any romantic notions about these guys being essentially squeaky-clean, grown-up Boy Scouts.

Mr. Bouton's memoir is written in a brutally honest, sincere and plain-spoken manner which fits very well with the subject matter. Heck, this stuff isn't Shakespeare by a long shot and that's fine. Some of the words used are considered politically incorrect in today's world, so please keep in mind when it was written. The two epilogues in the 1990 edition are also highly informative. It tells about the sports world's reaction to his book as well as how Mr. Bouton's and his teammates' lives evolved over the next twenty years. My eyes did occasionally glaze over when reading about his knuckleball struggles and highlights from certain games, but overall the book was entertaining.
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on April 22, 2017
Good baseball read

Just to see the names from the period that JB writes about was enough to keep my interest in reading this book. When he mentioned Sibi Sisti, Boston Braves, as a coach I knew I would enjoy the read.
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on August 5, 2013
I had wanted to read this for years, since Jim was playing baseball in my youth. I guess we both grew old together (but Jim's got several years on me). This was a fantastic read, and I couldn't put it down. It is the true and real story of baseball before free agency and million dollar contracts. Even if you DON'T like baseball, you'll like this.

I wrote Jim an email telling him how much I enjoyed the book, and he actually sent me an email back thanking me!

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on January 26, 2017
Unbelievable. To hear this wonderful classic in the author's own voice is an unforgettable experience. Not a polished actor, his realness, humanity and involvement come through loud and clear. Occasionally he laughs at his own jokes, and occasionally his voice breaks - most notably when he delivers that last famous line in the original text about gripping a baseball, and again in the last heartbreaking update.
You don't even have to like baseball to find this book appealing and worth revisiting, but if you're a fan of the game you shouldn't miss this experience.
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on August 1, 2017
One of my all time ever favorites!!! Read my first copy as a sophomore (and baseball player) in high school... Have read it many, many more times since then...just wanted a "good" copy to have rather than the falling apart paperback that's stashed somewhere on the the bookshelf.
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on October 20, 2016
Here it is 40+ years later and Bouton and 'Ball Four' still cracks me up! One of a kind book on human nature and real conversations and thoughts. Not just baseball guys busting onions and having olde school-style fun.

Btw, "Ass-Eyes," thanks for getting me into big trouble after reading your book while hurling for my Junior HS baseball team. My own diary didn't go over so big at the same time I read yours. Especially when it became kidnapped by a teammate who suddenly became Fred Talbot reincarnate.

Well worth another read.
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on April 27, 2013
And it didn't disappoint. Reading this book more than 40 years after it was written it wasn't as revealing as I had expected. However, with tell ll books like "Juiced" being written about life inside professional sports, these behind the scenes looks inside the locker room and on the road are fairly common now. Not to mention that with new technology and instant news updates, it's a lot more difficult for celebreties to do anything without being caught on camera and uploaded on twitter or facebook in minutes. However, when you think back to the social landscape back in 1969-70, this book would have been earth shattering to the clean cut image of baseball.

The book was revolutionary in that it was the first to break the "code" of " what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse". While most books today probably don't get a green light unless they "tell all", in my opinion, the author was very courageous in publishing it. I can only imagine how he would have been received by his peers once this book hit the shelves in the early 70's.

Great read!
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on March 28, 2015
I'm in my mid 50's, and I've been a fan of the San Francisco Giants since I was a kid. Ball Four really takes you back for those of us old enough to remember "reserve clause" baseball. But it also really takes you forward, through the present-day game to what the game may become. Parts of baseball will never change, maybe the best parts. But the passage of time, and the evolution of the game, is also part of what baseball is and will be always. It is joy and saddened, kids and adults, past and future, packed tightly into a horsehide ball. Thanks, Mr. Boulton, for a great book.
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on January 19, 2017
I read it many years ago and it opened many eyes and angered the baseball establishment with it's revelation of obscene behavior and drug use. Bouton took a gamble, knowing that he would be as welcome as a virus in everything concerning baseball but I applaud his nerve. A well-written book that may not have the same effect now as it did many years ago but nevertheless, it was a good read. A good look into Bouton's life-his joys, his wit, his observation, and the tragedy of the death of his daughter.
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