Last month, the Mariners had a game-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Pilots I attended, which compelled me to re-read Ball Four for the first time in a while. I just finished last night, which makes it spooky to see that Jim Bouton has passed away.
Parts of the book have dated, of course — it’s a useful reminder that misogyny was hardly limited to one point on the political spectrum — but it’s still very funny and very insightful about the game and the people he encountered. And while the book is best known for its soon-to-be-banal observations about the lifestyles of the players, its greater historical importance lies elsewhere:
Also, as Bouton himself observed more than once, Kuhn and the owners hated the book because it revealed how badly the players were getting screwed and how high-handed management was, not because of the stories that Mickey Mantle drank and did not observe his martial vows— Scott Lemieux (@LemieuxLGM) July 11, 2019
Don’t be afraid to climb those golden stairs! R.I.P.