In a year full of notable anniversaries — Fenway Park, Oriole Park, Tiger Stadium — one more to celebrate: fifty years ago, Jim Bouton joined the New York Yankees, setting the stage for Ball Four.
It’s safe to say Ball Four completely changed the way baseball books were written, raising the genre past hagiography to literary art. Bouton opened the doors of the clubhouse to public view, telling the raw truth and taking a terrible penalty for his actions, shunned by teammates and driven from the game for many years. Things like Deadspin or Dirk Heyhurst’s work wouldn’t exist without this pioneering book.
And Bouton remains as fascinating as ever. Check out this interview with NPR’s Neal Conan to hear Bouton talk about his Yankees days and baseball in general; it’s a great listen.
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