December 25, 2009

Ball Four




I finally picked up a copy of Jim Bouton's masterpiece, Ball Four; his chronicles as a member of the 1968 Seattle Pilots. In a day and a half, I've whipped through half the book's 465 pages. It's everything I was told it would be.

On this fine Christmas day, allow me to share with you a short passage that struck close to home:

"I am, of course, an optimist. Each year I'm certain I'm going to be great again. Every winter I get a questionnaire from Sport magazine on picking the pennant races and I always pick myself as Comeback of the Year. Each year I believe it. Each winter I pay a college kid $5 three nights a week to catch me in a gym. Each year I'm certain.

"And here I go again. I'm more positive than ever. My arm feels great. I've made the ballclub. I'm starting to throw like I used to throw, and I'm thinking I'll be a reliever for a while and then I'll do well in long relief and get a spot start now and then. Then I'll complete a ballgame and along around June they're going to stick me into the rotation and I'm going to wind up winning a flock of games, just like I did when I first came up to the Yankees. I see the team doing real well and I see me as one of the keys to our success. I see myself as one of the reasons we might finish third or fourth, I see myself as a goddam hero. That's what an optimist is, isn't it? A goddam hero."

Jim Bouton. My kind of guy.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Halladays, to you and yours. Cheers.

9 comments:

Steve G. said...

Ball Four really is one of the best sports books ever. I also highly recommend Loose Balls, if you're into the NBA / ABA. I've read that about six times from cover to cover.

Mattt said...

Alright! You're posting today. This blog never takes a day off apparently. As far as baseball books go, Sandy Koufax, A Lefty's Legacy, would be at the top of my list. He was Dave Stieb-like in his privacy so there was a lot of new information in it. I have to admit, as uncool as it may be to say, but Moneyball was an awesome look at the inner workings of the business of baseball.

DaveC said...

Ball Four is a fantastic book. Bouton captures the spirit of a ballplayer perfectly, and it always feels real, even if the writing is a little dated at times.

Merry Christmas and best wishes to you and yours as well!

Ian H. said...

Ball Four is another one that I have to read over the Christmas break. I've heard nothing but good things.

Happy Holidays, brother!

William said...

I read this book as a young man and loved it. There was one description of Ralph Houk and one of his more colorful...um...expression. I became enamored with it. So the next time I went to one of my younger brother's basketball games I was up in the bleachers. The ref made a bad call and the time was right, so I yelled out that the call was "HS". Well, everything in the building stopped and everyone was looking at me. Uhh...oops.

bkblades said...

You're a hero.

looshV said...

CHRISTMAHANAQUANSICA!!!1

To you and yours.....
Thanks for the great blogs and Jays coverage bro, I really enjoy your take on sport in general.

Rock said...

Ball Four is a great book. About twenty years ago I found a hardback copy for about $2 and it was autographed by Mr. Bouton himself. Still have it in my bookcase.

Loose Balls is another great sports book and if you're into the WHA, The Rebel League is also worth picking up.

Merry Christmas

eyebleaf said...

Thanks for the book recs, gents.