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Ball Four Book Cover

Ball Four Book Cover

Jim Bouton was briefly an Atlanta Brave. He played for us in 1978 for one year. He was born on March 8, 1939 in Newark, New Jersey. He was a right handed pitcher who also batted right.

Jim was better known as an author than as a pitcher though. He certainly wasn’t well known for playing with the Braves. He wrote the controversial Ball Four in 1970.

Bouton chronicled his 1969 season with a frank, insider’s look at a professional sports team, eventually naming his book Ball Four. The backdrop for the book was the Seattle Pilots’ one and only operating season, though Bouton was traded to the Houston Astros late in the season. Unlike previous sports works, Ball Four named names and described a side of baseball that was previously unseen. Bouton did this by writing about the way a professional baseball team actually interacts; not only the heroic game-winning home runs, but also the petty jealousies, the obscene jokes, the drunken tomcatting of the players, and the routine drug use, including by Bouton himself.

Upon its publication, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn called Ball Four “detrimental to baseball,” and tried to force Bouton to sign a statement saying that the book was completely fictional. Bouton, however, refused to deny any of Ball Four’s revelations. Many of Bouton’s teammates never forgave him for publicly airing what he had learned in private about their flaws and foibles. The book made Bouton unpopular with many players, coaches, and officials on other teams as well, as they felt he had betrayed the long-standing rule: “What you see here, what you say here, what you do here, let it stay here.”