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Foul Ball 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0970911711
ISBN-10: 0970911718
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This former Yankee pitcher, who wrote the sports tell-all template Ball Four, has a self-conscious voice that almost stifles this compelling story of Pittsfield, Mass., residents resisting a new stadium in order to renovate historic Wahconah Park instead. Bouton fancies himself both "pariah" and U.S. marshal, and writes one public official, "we have always tried to be respectful.... Go take a shower." But he accomplishes his goal of making the oldest minor league ballpark in America a metaphor for business interests run amok whatever the costs politically, environmentally and, yes, financially. When he points to former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani's nearly successful (yet minority-view) efforts to build new stadiums for the Mets and the Yankees despite a multibillion-dollar budget gap, Bouton is persuasive. But when Bouton declares his own motives are to "save an old ballpark, make some money, have fun," he is less so because he seems to delight in all the chicanery. Still, his commitment is beyond question; the book includes not only news accounts and e-mails, but even instant-messaging exchanges. At 354 pages,it's exhausting, but also heartfelt.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Bouton has been raising hell with the baseball establishment since 1970, when his landmark Ball Four revealed the frat-party side of the grand old game. Now he lines up against the economic lynchpin of pro sports: publicly funded stadiums. Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is the site of venerable Wahconah Park, home to various minor-league teams since 1892. Bouton and most of the area's citizenry feel the stadium should be repaired, updated, and preserved. The city government, however, along with various business interests, wants to build a new $18 million stadium--at taxpayer expense. This relatively small skirmish is portrayed by Bouton as a microcosm of the publicly funded sports facility battles that have been fought around the country. Typically, taxpayers foot the bill--under the pressure of team abandonment--so owners and players can get rich. Bouton, humor intact and sense of irony sharpened, chronicles the battle between the forces of fiscal responsibility and those who would build the new stadium (on a toxic waste dump). The good guys win this time, as the old ballpark is saved, at least temporarily, but Bouton paints a distinctly disturbing picture of corporate greed and taxpayer exploitation. Interestingly, Bouton's original publisher pulled out under pressure from pro-stadium business interests, leaving the author to publish his expose himself. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Bulldog Publishing; 1 edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0970911718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0970911711
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,357,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jim Bouton's pitching days are past, but his love for baseball will never end. _Foul Ball_ tells the story of his efforts, in concert with a good friend, to save a historic minor league baseball park.
Anyone who has ever read Bouton knows of his style: entertaining, self-deprecatory, perceptive and candid. This greatly broadens the appeal of what would otherwise be a book of fairly narrow interest. By the time I finished it, I was willing to collect signatures for a petition to save the place, so fully was I drawn into the story. If I ever pass through Massachusetts, I simply have to see Wahconah Park.
But what makes the story so relevant to many far from Massachusetts is its description of the constant conflict between small-town America's city governments and people. Bouton's story rings very true with me because I live in a town of similar size to Pittsfield (40-50,000), and I see locally the behaviours he has chronicled: an arrogant city government more concerned with building itself Taj Mahals and handing out fat contracts than doing the will of the people. A newspaper that works hand in glove with the city functionaries to further its own selfish interests. Legal harassment of those who dare dissent openly, and city employees acknowledging that the system is horribly corrupt but terrified to say so. And overshadowing it all, the pandering of city government to corporate greed and pressure--in the case of Pittsfield, GE and its apparent history of gross PCB spillage.
Fighting City Hall is not easy, and few do so, but Jim Bouton and Chip Elitzer had the guts to do it, for the love of baseball and history. When the original publisher mysteriously reneged on its agreement to put this book into print--gee, I wonder why--Bouton self-published it. It was well worth my money. Recommended for baseball fans, as well as anyone who has ever seen a city government wield power 'just because it can.'
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Format: Hardcover
Less than five years after I left my decades-long business and comfortable residence in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, tired of the infighting and incompetence that made a disaster of the city's economy and a mockery of its government, Jim Bouton's masterful book Foul Ball came to my attention. The book dwells on Jim's efforts to revitalize Wahconah Park, where my young daughter saw her first baseball games and where I took my elderly father to teach us both the subtleties of the game on lazy summer evenings.
In those days, $4 got you a seat in the grandstand and a few more bucks bought you a hotdog and peanuts. It wasn't fancy but it was baseball as my grandparents knew the game.
I was mesmerized by Bouton's book. Jim was talking about all my old colleagues, all my old grievances against the stodgy, secretive, illegal, classically antedeluvian gang that ran Pittsfield like a sniggering boys' club. I stayed up late reading the book in astonishment. What Bouton described in one sneaky maneuver after another constitutes a sad commentary on the priorities of a small city that used to be the county seat of a fine tourist area (Berkshire County, Massachusetts), but has lost industry, clean land, population, young people, and nearly all hope in decade after decade of counterproductive back-room deals that almost never benefit the misled, manipulated population of the city. Every other town in the county (and the one other small city) is now more desirable than Pittsfield . . . and Jim Bouton nails down the reasons in spades.
A fascinating read, and as someone who lived and worked there with the local establishment, I can say that it is a sad but all too true commentary on a community at war with itself.
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Format: Hardcover
The citizens of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, didn't want a new minor-league baseball stadium. However, the city council, parks commission, bank, top law firm, and newspaper, all wanted a new minor-league baseball stadium. Guess who won?
Jim Bouton's "Foul Ball" is his second diary. The first, of course, is "Ball Four", the seminal account not just of the short-lived 1969 Seattle Pilots (another victim of local politics and back-room deals) but of baseball on the brink of free agency. That book turned Bouton into something of a pariah; he went from ballplayer to broadcaster within months of its release.
"Foul Ball" charts four months in 2001, as Bouton and business partner Chip Elitzer seek community and political support to renovate Pittsfield's existing stadium and attract a new minor-league franchise (after the Pittsfield Astros left town in favor of... a new stadium, out of state). Just by the fact that this book was self-published, you can guess the outcome. Bouton tracks the unfolding story town meeting by town meeting, threatening phone call by threatening phone call. As with the "Ball Four" format, the action is liberally interspersed with anecdotes and updates from old friends. Indeed, if "Ball Four" hadn't already been followed by "Ball Five", "Ball Six", and "The Final Pitch", this book could've been "Ball Seven". Or "Juuuust A Bit Outside!".
To be honest, I really felt sorry for Bouton by the end. Now in his 60s and living in the Berkshires, running his modest motivational speaking enterprise, Bouton in "Foul Ball" suffers setback after setback. Apart from being pillaged daily by the local newspaper, he had to pull his book from its publisher and go the self-publishing route.
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