When you have a good thing that makes some money, you ride it out until it stops producing. I get that economic principle to its fullest. I also understand the book market has changed drastically over the last few decades, so if you have a product that works you just stick with it. That is the one of the reasons why I see that the todays book has come out with yet another edition.
Ball Four-The Final Pitch
By:Jim Bouton-2014 Turner Publishing
Jim Bouton has never been one to shy away from controversy. From the day the first edition of Ball Four hit the book shelves Bouton has been a lightning rod for it. From the first time the behind the scenes look at a baseball life revealed the skeletons in the baseball closet, people have talked about this book. From sex to drugs to lifting the veil on our favorite baseball heroes this book has gotten some serious mileage in the sports and literary world.
Most if not all of the baseball reading world has read at least one edition of this book. For me, one of the first baseball books I ever read was the second edition, Ball Four Plus Ball Five when I was about 13 years old. For a teenage baseball fan this book was a shocker. Most of Bouton’s career was before my time but it was still a real eye-opener.
What Bouton did was give a day by day no holds barred account of the baseball life. It broke the cardinal player rule of what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. Having an extended career with the famed New York Yankees and then subsequent time with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros, Bouton had lots of material. Lifting the curtain on what happened with the high-profile players on the Yankees was a major shock to the baseball world, and really pissed off a lot of people.
This book has been compared at time to Jim Brosnan’s The Long Season, published a decade prior to Ball Four. But in all honesty, Brosnan’s book felt very sanitary compared to Bouton’s and still honored some of the locker room code of the day. Both still have their place in your bookcase, but are very different animals.
The part I find most interesting about Ball Four is how every so often a new version is released. Ball Four has more lives than an alley-cat. Even if it is just a few new pages of material a new edition carrying a new subtitle is released. Sometimes it may just be a signed edition with a new cover that emerges to the retail bookshelves, but every decade or so it seems you can expect something new from Jim. Ball Four-The Final Pitch is no exception.
The Final Pitch gives you five new pages of epilogue from Jim Bouton penned in April 2014. He discusses his personal opinion on steroids and how to handle the players of the era and the issue of Hall of Fame induction. Surprisingly, it is in line with my own personal views on the subject. In the end it gave Jim a new spin on his 45-year-old book and garnered a place in my bookcase for the now 5th different version that I have of essentially the same book. This is the only version I have of the book that is not signed by Jim, so I will have to get working to correct that. I guess in theory, this alley cat, if it truly has nine lives, still has four more versions left to go so it will be interesting to see what the next edition brings to the table.
I think every baseball book collection needs at least one edition of this book in it. Even today it is still an enjoyable book. Partner that with this books historical significance and it should be on everyone’s book shelf.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Turner Publishing