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