STRIKE THREE (Jim Bouton, R.I.P.)

Pace John Keats, on earth, for at least two generations of aspiring baseball players, the final line of Jim Bouton’s classic account of a year spent trying to hang on with the hapless Seattle Pilots was all we knew and all we needed to know. The strange, unique ability of sport to bind us will never be put better than by someone with whom I could not otherwise have had less in common, including Major League ability, and nonetheless recognized as a brother:

“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, Ball Four

2 thoughts on “STRIKE THREE (Jim Bouton, R.I.P.)

  1. NDJ

    By 1969, I was phasing out of my first (childhood) phase of loving baseball. I read BALL FOUR and I can’t begin to explain how scandalous it was at the time, as sports stars were still lionized and held up in public as examples to American youth.

    I’m not sure that a young fan today could read the book without thinking it (and the players’ antics) rather pathetic and devoid of anything sensational enough to warrant attention. What’s funny in hindsight that no one thought to make a movie of it in the early ’70s.


    • I read it in the late 70s and was kind of comforted to know locker rooms didn’t change just because the occupants got older and richer. It meant I didn’t have to miss anything.

      Except playing the game.

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