During the coronavirus shutdown, each day we will bring you a recommendation from The Post’s Peter Botte for a sports movie, TV show or book that perhaps was before your time or somehow slipped between the cracks of your viewing/reading history. Here is our first book offering:
BALL FOUR, by Jim Bouton, 1970
Available: Amazon, Kindle
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn was so furious that he wanted Jim Bouton to dissociate himself with his own irreverent autobiography.
Pete Rose yelled at him from the dugout the following season “F–k you, Shakespeare!”
That alone should tell you how compelling and shocking to the system Bouton’s tell-all tome was to Major League Baseball and its hierarchy and traditions. Purported to be a diary of his 1969 season with the expansion Seattle Pilots, “Ball Four” was so much more than that and revered as a shocking exposè for its time, long before the days of Page Six and TMZ.
With out-of-school tales that generally were covered up or ignored previously by the press about players’ carousing, heavy drinking and other vices — most notably, former Yankees teammate Mickey Mantle — Bouton’s book changed how baseball and sports were covered and perceived by the public.
Of course, it also made him persona non grata in The Bronx for more than a quarter-century.
Bouton, who went 55-51 over seven seasons with the Yanks from 1962-68, was not invited to Old-Timers’ Day at the Stadium until George Steinbrenner brought him back in 1998 to a standing ovation.
With collaboration by former Post sportswriter Leonard Shecter, more than 5.5 million copies of the groundbreaking “Ball Four” eventually were printed and sold.
Another fun fact about Bouton, who died at 80 in July 2019: He was one of the founders of the popular bubblegum product Big League Chew.
Quote of Note: “You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” — Jim Bouton in “Ball Four.”
Botte Blows: 4.8 out of 5.
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