Any person who considers themselves a Major League Baseball fan knows of Jim Bouton. The multi-award-winning pitcher played professionally from 1962 to 1978 in two separate stints. He was best known for his wicked fastball, often leaving the opponent shell-shocked and incapable of moving until the ball reaches the plate.
Mid-way through his illustrious career, Bouton was approached by a sportswriter, Leonard Shecter, who gave him the idea of his eventual bestseller, Ball Four by Jim Bouton. This book provides readers with a glimpse into his mind and experiences as a professional baseball player, particularly with the New York Yankees.
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Top 3 Jim Bouton Books Reviews Including Ball Four by Jim Bouton
If you’re interested in learning more, here are some of the best Jim Bouton books.
1. Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Published officially in 2001, Ball Four: The Final Pitch chronicled Bouton’s experiences in 1969 as a player for both the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros. This running diary presented fans with a glimpse into life on the road, anecdotes of petty quarrels with teammates, and a tell-all narrative of everything MLB-related, but behind the scenes.
As mentioned earlier, it was extremely controversial at a time when professional sports had several bones hidden in the closet. But what we as readers loved was its honesty, and of course, the occasional comic relief.
Judging from the reviews, people really enjoyed seeing their would-be idols in a different light. Even up until now, athletes at almost every level are treated differently. This has led to stereotypes, both positive and negative, that aren’t necessarily true.
Jim Bouton spilled the tea, and painted them as humans who experience the same problems and issues everyone else does.
The book, Ball Four: The Final Pitch, is a quick read of just about 508 pages and perfect for the casual sports fan. Its paperback version weighs approximately 1.7-lbs, meaning it can fit snuggly in most travel bags.
We recommend taking this with you when killing time at an airport or while on a road trip. Just be warned because when you begin, putting it back down can be a challenge.
2. I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally by Jim Bouton
How could anyone top such an epic opening salvo? Well, if there’s anyone capable of hitting another home run, then it’s probably Jim Bouton. The one-time MLB all-star followed up his masterpiece by writing a sequel entitled, I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally. This served as his response to the recent backlash
During the time Ball Four was released, it was no secret that several players felt betrayed. There was, after all, an unwritten covenant that what happens behind the scenes must never be publicly broadcasted.
It was at these times that Bouton was cursed at, shunned, and even threatened with physical. Still, the 10-year veteran handled things through the only way he knew how: he injected a heavy dose of humor and sarcasm to defuse the situation.
Compared to the first book, though, IGYDTIP felt unsatisfying. And instead of building on the initial hype, the story actually took a step back. Spanning just 220 pages did leave people wanting more, but it also left a unanimous feeling of discontentment. Especially those who expected the same level of wit and candidness.
Nevertheless, despite all these negative feedback, we would still recommend I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally to baseball lovers everywhere. The stories are definitely entertaining and can ease you of stress after a long day at work.
Jim Bouton certainly has a way to weaving words into a more intricate idea. This alone is enough reason to listen to what he has to say.
3. Strike Zone by Jim Bouton
After reading the first two or three Jim Bouton books, who would have thought that Jim Bouton could write something so inspirational? Strike Zone is a fictional tale starring Sam Ward, a pitcher who was called up to play for the majors, on the most important game of the season.
Standing in between himself and a playoff berth is Ernie Kolacka, a retiring umpire who, as a favor to an old friend, has decided to throw the game in their opponent’s favor.
Even though this story is obviously made up, it still tackles several real-world issues such as game-fixing, retirement, and moral discernment. Several of which are experienced by athletes even until today.
We absolutely love how Bouton approaches things with an open mind and portrays each character so beautifully. It reminds us that our worth is not determined solely by the decisions we make.
Another element that makes this book so entertaining is the parallelism with actual people. Although no confirmation has ever been made by Jim Bouton or his publishers, the supposed rumors definitely helped sell more copies.
Most importantly, it helped create a closer affinity to each of the characters. That is because as fans, we are always seeking associations with the stories that we read.
All in all, Strike Zone is a values-enriched publication perfect for all types of readers. And although it utilizes several baseball terms, the author makes sure to explain each one thoroughly. As such, even the casual audience can appreciate the lessons it strives to reach. If you’ve ever come across this book in the mall, be sure you at least consider buying it.
Without a doubt, Jim Bouton remains to be one of the most influential figures in this sport. The way he depicts the concept of a professional athlete is astounding, which stems so much from his own experiences.
However, he still managed to keep things straightforward so even casual fans can relate. Therefore, we openly endorse Ball Four: The Final Pitch, I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally, and Strike Zone as anyone interested. The lessons it teaches go beyond the baseball field and can be applied to almost any aspect of our life.
Plus, these Jim Bouton books aren’t expensive, either, making them perfect as a present or reading material before bed.