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Jim Bouton, RIP
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Baseball pitcher Jim Bouton has died at age 80.

He won 39 games for the Mantle-Maris Yankees in 1963-64, plus two World Series games, but burned out his arm.

In 1969 he attempted to come back as a soft-throwing knuckleballer. A knuckleball is thrown with, ideally, zero spin, which causes it to flutter in a random pattern on its way to the plate. Everything about a knuckleball is the opposite of normal good pitching, in which the ball is thrown with as much of a combination of velocity, spin, and accuracy as is possible.

A few pitchers have enjoyed endless careers well into their 40s throwing the knuckleball, such as the Niekro brothers who won a combined 537 games. But it’s so contrary to conventional pitching that usually only a few pitchers at a time are ever throwing it.

Bouton wasn’t particularly good as a knuckleballer, going 2-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 1969. Yet, to be a knuckleballer is to be a philosopher.

And Bouton was in tune with his innovative time. My impression is that 1969 was the single most innovative year of my lifetime.

Bouton’s innovation was to keep a frank diary of his 1969 season and publish it in 1970 as the most hilariously honest book about baseball yet. Ball Four was enormously controversial and then enormously successful, supporting the notion that the 1960s mostly actually happened in the 1970s.

Baseball is a fairly literary sport, but not too many great books have been written by actual players, perhaps because being a bookworm as a boy is bad for the eyesight crucial for hitting. Most of the better books by players have been written by pitchers, with Ball Four as the most famous book ever by a player

Donald Trump, by the way, is an heir to the 1970s baseball attitudes molded by Bouton. His idol and mentor, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, felt that baseball was more fun if every clubhouse feud was aired in the tabloids. This was quite shocking to the previous orthodoxy set by the O’Malleys with the very buttoned-down Los Angeles Dodgers.

One interesting question is whether Bouton could get published fifty years later. Back then Bouton was seen as some sort of hippie George McGovern supporter. Now, most of his literary heirs, such as @Super70sSports, seem like dangerous reactionaries.

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  1. Bouton went on to become a sportscaster with the ABC and CBS affiliates in NYC, where he caught the attention of a young Keith Olbermann, who has admitted to ripping off his whole act from Bouton.

    He also invented Big League Chew.

    Bouton pitched well into his 40s in semi-pro ball in Northern New Jersey. I saw him pitch once, and before the game he was using the portable toilet at the park. My father pointed him out to him and told me to stand outside and wait for him to come out so I could get his autograph. Since this league was big enough to have a program, that program still exists at my parents’ house somwhere.

  2. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    supporting the notion that the 1960s mostly actually happened in the 1970s.

    Would it be accurate to say that the 1970s is when the 1960s happened to average people? The rock stars had long hair in the 1960s, but normal men started wearing their hair long in the ’70s?

    • Agree: Lot, Desiderius
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Anonymous
    , @Russ
  3. Daniel H says:

    My impression is that 1969 was the single most innovative year of my lifetime.

    The craziest year of a crazy decade, and if you lived in Los Angeles/San Francisco/New York you could throw in a crazy city, in a crazy country.

    Compared to then, everything is DULL today.

    • Replies: @SFG
    , @Justvisiting
    , @Desiderius
  4. Seems about right. The sixties started with JFK being shot and ended with the end of the Vietnam war. So approx 1964-74. Give or take a few months.

  5. Paul says:

    I was a teenager when Ball Four came out and decided to check out what the ensuing ruckus entailed. The book seemed to me like telling tales out of school. I thought Jim Bouton seemed bitter.

    I thought the follow-on book, I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally, was more interesting. That was where he wrote about the reaction to Ball Four.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  6. Requiescet in pace, Mr. B. You were a kick and a half.

    I was one of those nerds who hated athletics but was obliged by social circumstance to play ice hockey and roller hockey — by force, more or less. Reading “Ball Four” was about the closest I ever got to actually /liking/ sports. That, and the movies “Slap Shot” and “North Dallas Forty”. Jim, ya got me to kinda-sorta like sports, or at least not hate it, in the same way that “Tumbling Dice” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” /almost/,kinda -sorta got me to sorta like the Rolling Stones. Or at least not hate ’em.

  7. Paul says:

    “. . . the notion that the 1960s mostly actually happened in the 1970s.”

    I think the most consequential year of the era was 1968: the Tet Offensive and the intensity of the student revolts and race riots.

  8. Yet, to be a knuckleballer is to be a philosopher.

    And, sometimes, very good at concealing a doctored ball.

    • Replies: @Steve in Greensboro
  9. @Paul

    I think the most consequential year of the era was 1968

    That was my impression as a kid.

  10. Anonymous[198] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    You figured it out. The seventies were “The Sixties” for Core America.

  11. @Steve Sailer

    I think it was Peter Fonda who said, retrospectively in some movie I can’t remember, something like “When you really think of it, if you were really there at the time, all that the Sixties were was really just 1965, and the first part of 1966.”

    It cracks me up to think that modern rock n rollers –if they still exist– are further removed in time from Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, than the Clash were removed from Elvis.

  12. SFG says:
    @Daniel H

    It just looks that way because the bad guys won, and everything they advocated (free love, breaking down gender roles, do what you want regardless of the consequences, tear down pre-1950s Western culture) is normal now.

  13. SFG says:

    OT, but very iStevey, and surprisingly honest for the Times:

    • Replies: @Lot
  14. @Daniel H

    1968 was the year I found out that my teachers were gutless cowards.

    By 1970 they had justified their cowardice with leftist ideology.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  15. @Steve Sailer

    Yeah, but 1969… “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969”

  16. Anonymous[332] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    “The 1960s” actually happened from ~1966 with the Beatles Revolver and Beach Boys Pet Sounds to ~1974 with Watergate ending it in a loud thump. Also that coincides with the arc of intensity in Vietnam. The last troops out of Vietnam early 1975.

    A look a high school yearbooks: my Mom graduated 1965, and looked everyone looked like a Goldwater supporter. my uncle graduated 1968 and everyone looked like they just came back from Haight-Ashbury and needed a shower.

  17. FPD72 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    1968 was consequential or portentous in many ways. Here are highlights in just two areas:

    Politics: (1) MLK and RFK were assassinated, with the former resulting in riots across the country. The rioting in Detroit was the death kneel for that city. (2) The Tet Offensive in Vietnam and LBJ’s decision not to seek re-election. (3) Third party campaign by George Wallace. (4) Riots at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago and Richard Daily’s response. (5) RMN’s election as President.

    Sports: (1) Don Drysdale set the consecutive scoreless innings record, which was nearly broken again by Bob Gibson, on his way to a 1.12 ERA. Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown with a .301 batting average. As a result, mounds were lowered for 15 to 10 inches, the top of the strike zone was lowered, and discussions were begun that culminated in the DH rule in the American League in 1973. (2) The Wishbone offense was invented at the University of Texas, which tied its first game, lost the second, and then went undefeated until the 1971 Cotton Bowl. Many teams around the country started running triple option offenses as a result. (3) UCLA played and lost to Houston before a crowd of more than 52,000 and the first prime time, national telecast of a regular season college basketball game. (4) American Olympic athletes raised their fists in black power salutes on medal podiums, overshadowing Bob Beamon’s shattering of the long jump record by more than 21 inches, a record that would stand for 23 years. (5) OJ Simpson won the Heisman Trophy at USC. (6) The Packers won the Super Bowl and their fifth NFL championship in seven years. Vince Lombardi stepped down as coach and the Packer dynasty ended.

  18. Jake says:

    Bouton’s last comeback attempt was with the Portland Mavericks, the independent Single A minor league team founded and run by Bing Russell, Kurt’s daddy.

    The story of the Portland Mavericks shows that American bib business even in sports was totally amoral and vicious, unconcerned with either employees (players) or consumers (fan) long before anybody talked about the problems of most people being made serfs by economic globalism.

    The Federal government sanctioned monopoly that is MLB does not tolerate any competition. When the MLB team that ‘owned’ the rights to the Portland market left it, Bing Russel, then with no Bonanza, decided to try to bring back minor league ball as he knew it from his childhood: independent (not owned by a team in MLB) and run locally for the local fans.

    He was wildly successful with his ragtag bunch of guys never drafted even in Round 40 or far too old or trying comebacks after surviving a crippling injury of illness. One year the Mavericks lead all minor league teams in attendance. They also won games, twice winning their division of the league. And so MLB decided to kill the team by exercising its monopoly rights over any market in the country.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  19. But it’s so contrary to conventional pitching that usually only a few pitchers at a time are ever throwing it.

    I always enjoy watching knuckleballers. It’s a hard pitch to master; an unnatural grip when starting the wind up/delivery, and you have to deliver it in a sorta, kinda change-up (i.e. deceive the batter as to the true velocity) way. Knuckleballers, while using it as a primary pitch, will still employ the other pitches as well, if nothing to keep hitters off-balance. I believe the Niekro brothers, while employing the knuckleball later in their careers, still racked up the bulk of their wins as conventional pitchers using fastball/slider/curve/changeup.

    The last knuckleballer I remember distinctly was Tim Wakefield pitching for the Red Sox, and providing this 2003 ALCS playoff highlight:

    Since pitchers after the 1920’s specialized into just pitching, they get to sit 3-4 days between starts, so they have a lot of uninterrupted time to observe the game, and generally make better writers/authors about it.

    • Replies: @Justvisiting
  20. @The Germ Theory of Disease

    Re: ‘North Dallas Forty’: you may wish to read the book. Written in first person and far superior to the movie.

    • Replies: @duncsbaby
  21. Carax says:

    Bouton also had a part in the 1973 movie The Long Goodbye. A great movie, by the way, although I have no idea why Bouton was cast.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    , @duncsbaby
  22. I read Ball Four when I was a teenager, and many of the anecdotes still stick with me. Bouton’s time with the Astros was hilarious. For example, he told the story of a young nervous rookie starting pitcher facing lead off hitter and future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan.

    First pitch — crack!! — stand up double into the gap. Standing on second base, Joe Morgan says, “Hey kid, welcome to the National League.”

    Cold. Very cold.

    • Replies: @Marty
  23. Kyle says:
    It Sure Looks Like Jeffrey Epstein Was a Spy—But Whose?
    By John R. Schindler • 07/10/19 5:29pm
    “Who are the suspects then? It seems awfully coincidental that Epstein’s best pal and business partner for decades has been Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and daughter of the late Robert Maxwell, the media mogul who died under mysterious circumstances in 1991. Something of a Bond villain turned real life,”

    It’s ok to plagiarize you because you’ve been unpersoned and technically you don’t exist. It would be problematic if they did cite you. You’re troubling and problematic in so many ways.

  24. There are a lot of better baseball books than Ball Four.

    I suspect it is true what someone said above, that Bouton seemed bitter.

    But I’m more of a football and wrestling fan so I’d have to check Bill James’s list of baseball books to refresh my memory.

    Worth noting that the (((co-author))) of Bouton’s book was a Leonard Shecter, who believed in an “iconoclastic” style of sports journalism.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  25. He later got a job in Hollywood due to his liberal subversive attitude. Pot smoking, cocaine using Robert Altman loved his attitude and cast him in the Long Goodbye. I didn’t think much of the book, but then I wasn’t a young boomer who was shocked and titillated when it came out. You wonder what kind of careers the old BB would’ve had if they’d had modern 21st century sport medicine. IRC, Mantle had a knee injury that hobbled him and ended his career. With today’s medicine he’d have stayed at almost 100 percent. Same with Koufax. Burnt out his arm. They had him pitching over 300 innings per year in 1965 and 1966.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  26. Marty says:

    I attended Bouton’s big comeback win at Candlestick Park in September, 1978. He went 7 innings for the Braves to beat the Giants in front of about 5,000. At the time, the Giants’ GM was Spec Richardson, who had been Bouton’s nemesis in ‘69. In ‘78 it was a three team race Reds-Dodgers-Giants, and when his start was announced, Tommy Lasorda complained, “he should have to face us, too.”

  27. Paul says:

    “Most of the better books by players have been written by pitchers, with Ball Four as the most famous book ever by a player.”

    There is a racial line-of-thought that pitchers have to be more intelligent (and whiter) in order to outsmart batters.

  28. Off topic from Illinois State University

    Diversity and inclusion: A year in review

    10 July 2019

    Illinois State continued its ongoing work toward diversity and inclusion with programs, events, speakers, research, and initiatives.. Here’s a glimpse at the 2018-2019 year.

    Initiatives supported
    Students, faculty, staff, and community members showed their support for efforts and programs that bridge gaps and heal divides.

    Illinois State worked to have courageous conversations in the classroom, engaging in potentially controversial topics instead of silencing the comments.

    Students who are underrepresented continue to connect with mentors in the STEM field through the University College Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. Students and community members combined to launch the School Street Food Pantry out of the First United Methodist Church to help alleviate the food desert near campus. Students Ending Rape Culture (SERC) continued work to let survivors know they are not alone. Local law enforcement joined with transgender, Muslim, and Sikh communities to host community awareness training.

    The African American Studies award winners recognized students minoring in African American Studies as well as granting a Summer Research Initiative grant. The Impact Awards recognized faculty, staff, and students were designed to show appreciation for the impact an individual member of the campus community can have on new students and student retention.

    Professor Ellis Hurd’s new book, The Reflexivity of Pain and Privilege, brought to light stories of scholars and authors who navigate the worlds of teaching, research, and family through a lens of mixed identity. A new book by Illinois State University’s Liv Stone titled Atenco Lives! sheds light on the ties forged between documentary films and social movements.

    Assistant Professor Erin Quast was recognized for her research on Kindergartener’s recognition of race. Charles Bell, a professor of criminal justice at Illinois State, discussed his research on the use of suspensions as a temporary fix that tend to hurt students more than they help.

    Danielle Beasley of Student Counseling Services raised awareness about gaslighting, highlighting what it is, how it effects people, and how to get help stopping it.

    Events energized
    Sexual Assault Awareness Month aimed not only to raise awareness, but to help in preventing sexual assault from happening in the first place, and to continue the conversation on sexual assault past the month of April. Denim Day was brought to the Quad to let the Illinois State community show support for survivors of sexual assault.

    The annual Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium featured criminal justice students calling out victim blaming in sexual assault with the project “What were you wearing?” And the Take Back the Night rally offered a place for survivors or sexual violence, allies, families, and members of the community a supportive space to speak out against sexual harassment and violence

  29. Ball Four was the funniest baseball book I know of, but also surprisingly poignant in spots toward the end. For some reason I can’t forget Manager Joe Schultz, whose vocabulary consisted mostly of “shitfuck” and occasionally “fuckshit.”

  30. El Dato says:

    OT: I don’t know whether robotically monitoring opioid breakdown products in wastewater is the right way to go about this. Although it’s always good to have data:

    Biobot’s approach can be used to look at lots of different compounds. But so far the company is focusing on one target: opioid metabolites from prescription pain relievers and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

    Metabolites are byproducts of the body metabolizing a drug. They are reliable indicators of whether a person has ingested or injected an opioid.

    “Right now our focus is just analyzing for opioids, because opioid addiction is a major public health crisis,” says IEEE Member Irene Hu, a hardware electronics engineer at Biobot.

  31. @Steve Sailer

    I think the most consequential year of the era was 1968

    The Doors did their song The End in 1967 or 1968 and that admiral’s son bastard Morrison was 50 years too soon — 2019 is the frigging end!

    Jim Morrison on The End:

    [E]very time I hear that song, it means something else to me. I really don’t know what I was trying to say. It just started out as a simple goodbye song…Probably just to a girl, but I could see how it could be goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don’t know. I think it’s sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be.

    I’ll say what that baby boomer dope dingbat Morrison was warbling on about: the end of sanity and any and all attempts to make sense. Talking Heads can be said to have a companion piece to The End in their 1983/1984 concert film Stop Making Sense with the refrain stop making sense…stop making sense…stop making sense… taken from the song Girlfriend Is Better.

    Two SCOTTISH nutcakes with their Scottish nutcake minds — Morrison and Byrne — are to blame for all the nonsense, Dammit!

    The JEW/WASP ruling class of the American Empire had been in power for decades before the Jew element in Roosevelt’s administration really piled it on. You could say the JEW/WASP ruling class had been a thing since the Spanish-American war of 1898 or so. The JEW/WASP ruling class of the American Empire is really pushing this stop making sense business but good!

    The Scottish people let us down! They are supposed to be driven mad with reality and trying to make sense of things and improving steam engines and the sonofabitches start singing about the end and not making sense any more.

    I want that Fed Chairman Powell to start belting out that Doors song The End, that’ll make some sense to me, Dammit!

  32. El Dato says:

    OT2: Craig Murray says the “JDAM leak” that got Kim Darroch bumped downstairs has a simple explanation: Because he is a nasty individual and someone mangled by the guy at some time decided that revenge is best served in the Daily Mail:

  33. I read it about 40 years ago. My memories of this book are that the mere suggestion of publishing something like it would be considered at the very least a micro aggression, most likely a firable offense on par with voting for Trump.

  34. Altai says:

    OT: I don’t know what we’re going to call this? The Epstein cascade? But famous celebrity physicist Lawrence Krauss is under scrutiny from the SJWs for his comments on Epstein that sound almost exactly like Trump’s. There has been a whispering campaign against him for some years and he gives off a certain vibe.

    He and Stephen Pinker seem to have had a certain relationship with Epstein that only Jewish men born in circa 1940-1960 seem to have, along with, perhaps, a certain attitude to shiksas.

    • Replies: @Steve in Greensboro
  35. A bit off topic:

    So now it looks as though Alan Dershowitz was raping underage Russian girls on Jeffrey Epstien’s PEDERAST Rape Island….”Zee Dershowitz Plane Mr EPSTIEN!!!!”….in a squeaky midget voice….What a FUCKING FILTHY COCKROACH…..although some people believe Dershowitz looks like a grotesque deep sea fish species that one can find in google images……dead ringer….

  36. Lot says:

    I agree that it is surprising good for the NYT. But it is still biased.

    There are a set of deceptive tropes when profiling Islamic immivaders in the MSM. Here, the Afghan supposedly spends 2 hours a day six days a week going to and from Swedish language class. The Somali is gainfully employed and only has 3 kids, and also is a diligent student of Swedish.

    How typical is this?

    I like now the article introduces the idea of a net fiscal drain of each migrant. The actual figure of $7800 however is dubiously low. In low-social-service USA, that doesn’t even come close to annual public school costs ($10,000 per normal student, far more for low IQ ESL/Special Ed migrants). Nor does it cover expected Medicaid costs.

    The other best part of the article was the colorful pictures of the Swedes and their small town. Seeing what the Jihadi-Merkel coalition wants to destroy and replace with yet more third world Islamic slums is infuriating to me, and I hope a spark of that will happen in at least a few liberal NYT readers.

  37. @Lot

    Government school for one child in a California City, such as Los Angeles, costs not ten thousand dollars per year but closer to TWENTY thousand bucks per year. That makes your point about the net economic burden of most immigrants even stronger.

  38. Funny, but I don’t remember much of Ball Four. but the follow-up I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally had the unforgettable “kneeslapper” of Dick Radatz and the orange man.

    There was the time Bouton’s minor-league team took a night bus into Canada for a series there. He was up front and awake at the border crossing, so the agent asked him what they were transporting. He said “guns and marijuana”.

    The entire bus was awoken and searched. They were not happy with Jim. I forget which book that story was in.

  39. Steve

    Go to google images….Type in:Blob Fish….then google images of Alan Dershowitz……You won’t be able to tell the difference….

  40. @Lot

    No, it’s not typical, says our Danish Friend who speaks Danish, Swedish, German, and English fluently, travels Scandinavia and Western Europe extensively for both business and leisure. Efforts to learn the language and assimilate are generally very poor in Denmark and in Sweden, despite the resources the schmucks make available for the invaders to learn for free.

    Moreover, so what if every noneuropean or Muslim migrant had “only” three kids? Since Swedes don’t bother having children at even half that rate, the noneuropean Muslims will gradually constitute a larger and larger share of the population — and then the electorate.

    Even if all Muslim / noneuropean immigrants had only TWO kids, again compared to actual Swedes below 1.6 or so, they will still become the majority nationwide in Sweden soon enough.

    As for this particular poster knowing Swedish, again so what? The Swedes’ grandchildren, what few there are, will be subjugated and bred out of existence with Africans and Arabs, but at least will hear their mandatory Islamic sermons in their own language, how nice.

    • Agree: Lot
  41. Steve……help me out here….

    Bouton’s wiki include this paragraph….

    “….A memorable duel between Bouton and Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers occurred in Game 3 of the 1963 World Series before a crowd of 55,912 at Dodger Stadium. Drysdale pitched a three-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory, Bouton giving up just four hits for the Yankees. The only run scored in the first inning on a walk, wild pitch and single by Tommy Davis that bounced off the pitching mound……”

    My question is…whatever happened to Tommy Davis? His last year with the Dodgers was 1966, and he went on to play for 9 ballclubs over the next 10 years. I look a little closer and see he was All-World in 1962 when, at just 23, he went .346/27/153 with 230 hits. I would say that’s Trout-like, except I don’t think even Trout has had a single year that spectacular. In 1963 he fell off, but not by much. And this was in the 15″ mound era.

    I see that post-Dodgers he was a solid .285 or so hitter, with no better than average power. Spent 3+ years as DH in Baltimore , and the rest of his career was a year or two (or less) here and there. Maybe this?

    “….[Davis] occasionally expressed resentment for his numerous moves, remarking late in his career: “I’m very bitter, bitter as hell. Why do I keep getting released? Don’t ask me no reason why.” But he conceded his reputation as having a casual style of play, noting, “the lazier I felt the better I hit”, and admitting that he often went into the clubhouse to read and even to shave between at bats as a DH with Baltimore…..”

    • Replies: @Honesthughgrant
  42. My impression is that 1969 was the single most innovative year of my lifetime.

    In a bad way, at times. I was nonplussed that my Mets had clearly dominated the National League, yet were forced to go through this dog-and-pony show with the Braves, who finished only one game better than the soundly-defeated Cubs. It was a few years before I wised up enough to be disgusted.

    I was happy to see Montreal get a team, but did they have to ruin the standings to do it? 1968 was a dull finish in both leagues, but 1967’s American League was the best pennant race ever, parity gone mad. It will never happen again.

    By the way, the only “miracle” that year was an open window between the Dodger-Cardinal dominance of the ’60s and the Red-Pirate reign of the early ’70s. The best club of that era (by far), Baltimore, still managed to lose two of their three Series.

  43. B-Ha says:
    @Steve Sailer

    the significance of ’68 also included an assassination or two.

  44. Alan Dershowitz………



  45. …perhaps because being a bookworm as a boy is bad for the eyesight crucial for hitting.

    Yogi Berra refused to read at all during the season.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  46. mhowell says:

    I found a “Ball Four” paperback at a thrift shop last year. Unlike a lot of books from the 60’s this one has aged well. Stuff that was shocking at the time hardly raises an eyebrow fifty years later. What stands out today is a candid snapshot of player-management relations, race relations, and baseball strategy circa 1969 — before the DH, before Curt Flood, and before team charters — just to name a few. Well worth seeking out. RIP, JB.

  47. Clyde says:

    Cream started out in 1966. So in my book a lot of the 60s took place in the 1960’s.

    Cream were a British rock band formed in London in 1966. The group consisted of lead singer/bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist/singer Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker.

  48. Pericles says:
    @Charles Pewitt

    If you haven’t already, you should take a look at Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon.

  49. Pericles says:

    1968, a significiant year in Europe. In particular, the year when the universities were taken over. France still mentions their soixante-huitards, I believe.

    • Replies: @Paul
  50. Sparkon says:
    @Charles Pewitt

    I’ll say what that baby boomer dope dingbat Morrison was warbling on about:

    Jim Morrison was born in 1943, so he was no Baby Boomer.

    Morrison was uniquely talented however, in that he and his band appeared fully formed with their entire catalog of songs already written by Morrison, which is difficult to understand because he could neither read nor write music, nor could he play a musical instrument.

    The signal event of the ’60s was the assassination of Pres. Kennedy in 1963, which brought Lyndon Johnson to power who reversed JFK’s plans to get all U.S. forces out of Vietnam by the end of 1965. Instead, we got the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964 where U.S. naval forces were under the command of Admiral George S. Morrison, Jim’s dad.

    Jim Bouton got in hot water with the Yankees because in Ball Four he’d written about Mickey Mantle’s drinking and carousing, which probably contributed to Mantle’s decline as much as his many injuries.

  51. Had a laugh from Ball Four before even opening the book. On my paperback version among the positive critic quotes on the back cover was one from Mickey Mantle, it just read “Jim who?”

  52. donut says:

    “There are a set of deceptive tropes when profiling Islamic immivaders in the MSM. ” Well that is rich coming from a Jew .

  53. “Baseball is a fairly literary sport, but not too many great books have been written by actual players, perhaps because being a bookworm as a boy is bad for the eyesight crucial for hitting.”

    Few books written by actual players, because most players have a low IQ, and simply aren’t into reading, writing, philosphy, STEM, etc. The only reason they even go to college is to get to MLB draft.

    As Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four “Most athletes can’t function in the real world.”

    And he also quotes NBA HOF BOS Bill Russell “Most athletes have been on scholarship since the third grade”

    I mean, come on. There aren’t many right side of bell curve in MLB (or NFL, NBA, NHL for that matter).

  54. @Daniel H


    December fifth was particularly exciting, IIRC.

  55. turtle says:

    combination of velocity, spin, and accuracy

    Velocity is a physical vector quantity; both magnitude and direction are needed to define it. The scalar absolute value (magnitude) of velocity is called speed

    In mathematics, physics, and engineering, a Euclidean vector (sometimes called a geometric[1] or spatial vector,[2] or—as here—simply a vector) is a geometric object that has magnitude (or length) and direction.

    In everyday language, most people use the terms speed and velocity interchangeably. In physics, however, they do not have the same meaning, and they are distinct concepts. One major difference is that speed has no direction. Thus, speed is a scalar.

    Using “velocity” to mean “speed” is just a sign of ignorance.
    Commonly emitted from the mouths of baseball coaches who tell you their ace “has good velocity, and great control.”
    Then you get to hear about their “philosophy.” Thanks, Plato.
    My dad always taught me, “Throw strikes. Speed will come.”
    Bullpen catcher in college told me I was the second best left hander he ever caught.
    Natch, I wanted to know who was first. When he said Koufax, I did not believe him.
    But, he had pics. He also said Koufax was much better than I was. 🙂

  56. @Reg Cæsar

    During the off-season he refused to write too.

  57. Now, most of his literary heirs, such as @Super70sSports, seem like dangerous reactionaries.

    Yeah, but not by the conventional meaning. I end most days by reading his twitter feed, but I knew there’d be trouble between us when twitter recommended I also follow James Comey one night.

    Sure enough the pro-Rapinoe/women’s MMA tweets were not long in coming. He’s still stuck somewhere in bra-burning land. The danger is mitigated somewhat by how stale it is.

  58. @Carax

    The Long Goodbye. Do you remember the easy baseball trivia question that he answers humorously by pretending it was difficult?

    • Replies: @rickv404
  59. J.Ross says:

    Remember when Robert Mueller spent an enormous amount of time and money to accomplish absolutely nothing?

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s claim of “sweeping and systematic” Russian meddling in the 2016 US election just took another body blow, as a federal judge ruled that his indictment of a ‘troll farm’ is not actual proof of it.
    Mueller’s charges against Concord Management & Consulting, the Russian company accused of running a “troll farm” and “sowing discord” on US social media in 2016, do not establish a link between that private company and the Russian government, US District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich pointed out.

    Yet the special counsel’s much-publicized final report claims to have “established” and “confirmed” Russian government activities based in part on the indictment against Concord, which is a breach of prosecutorial rules, Friedrich said.

    This actually happened in May but it’s only coming out now, to zero reporting by the lyingpress.

    Imagine if Mueller was actually tasked with something important, like, I don’t know, figuring out how a major terrorist attack was allowed to happen. Or imagine if he was supposed to prevent one.

  60. Marty says:

    Whollly Cow, what a remarkable story! Here’s one almost as good:

    Marino Pieretti, who taught me how to throw a curveball in ‘69, was on the hill for the Senators, with a 3-0 count on Ted Williams. He threw a fastball, which Williams hit out of the park. Rounding the bases, Williams yelled, “you dumb dago! Don’t you know you can’t throw me a fastball on 3-0?”

    • Replies: @William Badwhite
  61. @Marty

    I remember a line when the Pilots were on a bus going to a road game and one of the players saw a homeless guy (“a bum”) and says “that’s what happens to you when you can’t hit a curveball”.

  62. @FPD72

    LBJ’s announcement came at the end of a regularly-scheduled speech on Vietnam. The text furnished to reporters before the speech did not include the sentence about his withdrawal from the race. The TV anchors were perturbed to learn the shocking news at the same time as everyone else.

    That was on a Sunday night. MLK was assassinated the following Thursday.

  63. @FPD72

    Also, there is archival news footage showing the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel at the moment that RFK was shot. The shooting occurs off-camera, in the kitchen, but you can hear piercing screams and then watch people react with shock and horror as the news spreads. Someone goes up to the microphone and asks if there is a doctor present, then admonishes everyone to leave the room in an orderly fashion.

    Supposedly Teddy Kennedy saw this live as it aired, but did not realize at first that his brother had been shot.

    • Replies: @FPD72
  64. @The Germ Theory of Disease

    Good comment.

    By the way, “Tumblin’ Dice” and the rest of the “Exile on Main Street” album was the only worthwhile music that the Stones ever produced, mostly because they modeled it on American music with the help of Gram Parsons.

  65. @The Alarmist

    Hall of Fame pitcher San Francisco Giant Gaylord Perry, native of the Old North State, has no comment.

  66. @Altai

    Where de underage shiksas at?

  67. eah says:


    • Replies: @eah
  68. One interesting question is whether Bouton could get published fifty years later.

    The sports genre isn’t my thing, but I remember a JB line from B-4 (in the preface of an e-book edition?). Something like:

    Previously, sports books were all predictable and dull.

    A sportswriter [always self-righteous and PC] would partner with a famous pro athlete, who he knew. The writer would interview/tape his subject for a few hours, and then they would release it as a cliche-ridden, co-authored book.

    ‘Eat your Wheaties. Practice. Listen to your coaches.’

    That sort of thing.

    After B-4, the sports genre changed so as to make such books entirely scandalous and sensational — to the point of ennui.

    I read B-4 when it first came out. My favorite story was about Pepitone and his blow dryer.


  69. @Sparkon

    he and his band appeared fully formed with their entire catalog of songs already written by Morrison, which is difficult to understand because he could neither read nor write music, nor could he play a musical instrument.

    Faustian bargain, which Old Scratch redeemed in Paris, July 3, 1971.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  70. @Charles Erwin Wilson 3

    Robby Krieger wrote some of the Doors’ songs, but all the songs were credited to The Doors, so Krieger and Densmore are still getting checks along with Morrison and Manzarek’s estates.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  71. @Paul

    I was in college when Ball Four was published and had been a baseball fan from childhood. Nothing in the book concerning ballplayer behavior surprised me a bit.

  72. @Jim Don Bob

    Oh, come on, everybody knows that the CIA wrote all of The Doors’ songs. The songs were written by Miles Copeland and his sons.

  73. Rapparee says:

    One summer in the ’60s, Mr. Bouton rented a house next to my father’s schoolyard playground; that he was gracious enough to hop the fence and join some of their pickup games cemented all the neighborhood kids as diehard Yankee fans for life.

    • Replies: @Hunsdon
  74. @Steve Sailer

    The establishment had been supportive of the Vietnam War until 1968. When Walter Cronkite turned against it the rest did. The establishment was as a group anti-communist. From 1968 they morphed into anti-anti-communism.

    Over time they became the hard left they are 50 years later.

  75. @Justvisiting

    In 1970 I had a political science teacher who was a hard-line conservative Republican. He was the only conservative political science teacher I ever encountered. A major theme of his was “When you’re liberal, you’re morally pure.”

    By this he meant a liberal doesn’t try to be “morally pure,” but justifies everything he does with “I’m a liberal, so I’m pure.”

    An example is Ted Kennedy at Chappaquiddick and liberals supporting him for the rest of his life despite causing the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

  76. @FPD72

    FWIW Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in 1967, not 1968. In 1968 he won only the batting title with the ,301 batting average.

  77. @John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan

    Speaking of Leonard Shecter, in late 1967 he wrote an Esquire magazine article ripping Vince Lombardi. Since Shecter was a “New York writer,” Lombardi thought it would be the usual fawning he received from East Coast writers.

    Jerry Kramer often mentioned the Esquire article in the Instant Replay book and how Coach was “hurt” by the article. The irony (which totally escaped Kramer) was Lombardi looks pretty much the same in Kramer’s book as he does in Schecter’s piece.

  78. @Honesthughgrant

    To repeat, I was a young boomer who wasn’t surprised a bit at the ballplayer behavior in Ball Four. Not a bit. I was not “shocked or titillated” at all.

    Mickey Mantle played on one leg for 17 years (1952-68). If you read Sport magazine articles on Mantle during the 1960’s you were aware Mantle liked to lift a few.

    • Replies: @Marty
  79. I read Jay Johnstone’s book Temporary Insanity back in high school. He considered himself a great prankster and some of the stuff he did certainly measured up. From wp:

    He pulled off a number of infamous pranks during his playing days, including placing a soggy brownie inside Steve Garvey’s first base mitt, setting teammates’ cleats on fire (known as “hot-footing”), cutting out the crotch area of Rick Sutcliffe’s underwear, locking Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda in his office during spring training, once dressing up along with Jerry Reuss as groundskeepers to drag the Dodger Stadium infield in the fifth inning and then hitting a pinch-hit home run when Lasorda tried to show him up while imposing a fine to both players for being out of uniform, nailing teammates’ cleats to the floor, and replacing the celebrity photos in manager Lasorda’s office with pictures of himself, Reuss and Don Stanhouse. One time, during pre-game warm ups, he climbed atop the Dodger dugout and, in full game uniform, walked through the field boxes at Dodger Stadium to the concession stand and got a hot dog. Another time he bolted from a taxicab on the gridlocked Golden State Freeway during a pregame traffic jam and began running in uniform toward the Stadium Way exit. He also once dressed up in Lasorda’s uniform (with padding underneath) and ran out to the mound to talk to the pitcher while carrying Lasorda’s book and a can of Slim Fast.

    He also appeared in The Naked Gun as the lead off batter in the film’s finale.

  80. @Fred C Dobbs

    to read and even to shave between at bats as a DH with Baltimore…..”

    LOL. Lazy, but well-read and well-groomed.

  81. rickv404 says:
    @I, Libertine

    Yes, who were the three DiMaggio brothers. Love that movie. Watched it numerous times. Can’t stand Robert Altman otherwise, but this was good. Bouton was a good villain. Did a competent job in the movie, but I have no idea why he was cast either.

  82. @Charles Pewitt

    I have always felt that Otto Mann was based on Jim Morrison, based only on this scene:

  83. @FPD72

    You forgot that DET P Dennis McLain won 31 games that year-the last year a P won 30 or more games.

  84. istevefan says:

    You put together a nice time capsule. You could also add the Apollo 8 mission in December 1968. It was the first time men orbited the moon. In theory they could have landed, but the mission was just to see if they could get there. It was a stepping stone to the eventual moon landing. It was famous for the guys reading from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

    • Replies: @FPD72
  85. Steve, I’m a little mystified how you can make mention of Bouton’s untimely passing, yer fail to comment on the passing of Ross Perot. On the greater scheme of things, certainly the little Texan did as much as Jim Bouton.

  86. @MikeatMikedotMike

    He also appeared in The Naked Gun as the lead off batter in the film’s finale.

    Despite playing for 8 teams in his career, the Mariners weren’t one of them but the Angels were. However, due to the rules of baseball, he had to be a Mariner.

    I have a feeling that Johnstone was one of those guys who was exhausting to be around. After all, he had 9 different stints in MLB and only last as a color commentator for two years each for the Yankees and Phillies. I’m sure they just got sick of his shit.

    • Agree: MikeatMikedotMike
  87. Marty says:
    @David In TN

    Going from memory, but I don’t think Bouton’s big revelation about Mantle had anything to do with drinking. Instead, it was about the time, as a kid of 10-12, he asked Mantle for an autograph. Mantle replied, “take a hike, son.”

    • Replies: @David In TN
    , @AceDeuce
  88. Paul says:

    That was when Daniel Cohn-Bendit (“Danny the Red”) was a student at Nanterre in France. He has since shifted somewhat to the right politically like some of those other Jewish guys from 1968.

  89. @MikeatMikedotMike

    Johnstone seems to have stayed permanently about age 13.

  90. @Marty

    Not surprised by that either.

  91. eah says:

    OT (also)

    A political “Becky” — even a poor white woman with a young child in downtrodden Youngstown, OH gets the political “Becky” treatment from a US senator via ‘senatorsplaining’ about ‘white privilege’ and ‘institutional racism’ (look up the opioid overdose rate for OH) — also poignancy doesn’t seem to mean what it used to.

    This Jew thinks it’s super poignant that a white woman had her political concerns totally brushed off and told that other groups are more important.

    A poignant moment at @SenGillibrand’s Youngstown, OH roundtable occurred when a white woman holding her baby asked her about how Dems talk about white privilege while she is still struggling. Gillibrand took a beat, and then answered the woman’s question…Full exchange below:

  92. duncsbaby says:
    @Philbert Desanex

    Speaking of movies, Jim Bouton had a pretty good cameo as the human McGuffin in Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye.” He was actually not bad in his role as an amoral L.A. hustler.

  93. duncsbaby says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Whaddyouknow? You only lived through it.

  94. duncsbaby says:

    Bouton was good in that role.

  95. BB753 says:

    For a second, I misread your title as John Bolton, R.I.P., and was exhilarated!

    • Replies: @Hunsdon
  96. Hibernian says:

    “and the Packer dynasty ended.”

    The second of 4 Packer dynasties.

  97. FPD72 says:

    I actually thought of that but wanted to stick to only the areas of politics and sports. But yeah, hearing the Apollo astronauts read from Genesis 1 on Christmas Eve while they orbited the moon was a great highlight and a fitting end to a momentous year. I still remember watching it while home from college on my parents’ B&W TV.

    I thought I would leave other areas, such as music, movies, science, etc. to others. The point I wanted to make was how important the events of 1968 were in those two areas and either caused or portended future events or major changes.

  98. FPD72 says:
    @Stan Adams

    There is an intersection of the RFK assassination and the sporting events I listed; it took place on the same night that Drysdale extended his consecutive shutouts/scoreless innings record against the Pirates at Dodger Stadium, not too far from the Ambassador Hotel.

    I actually attended the game with two friends, one of whose uncle was Elroy Face, the Pirate pitching great who was by that time their pitching coach. We met him after the game and he invited us back to the team hotel for a bite to eat, but we had to get home for school the next day — I think it was finals week. The Pirates may have been staying at the Ambassador, but that’s just a guess.

  99. @Sparkon

    The signal event of the ’60s was the assassination of Pres. Kennedy in 1963, which brought Lyndon Johnson to power who reversed JFK’s plans to get all U.S. forces out of Vietnam by the end of 1965. Instead, we got the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964 where U.S. naval forces were under the command of Admiral George S. Morrison, Jim’s dad.

    Oliver Stone thought Kennedy would’ve eventually got the US troops out of Vietnam, too. LBJ dragged the American Empire into the Vietnam War debacle and LBJ was the one who signed the nation-wrecking 1965 Immigration Act into law.

    I prefer Van Morrison to Jim Morrison, but I do like a lot of songs from The Doors.

    Van Morrison on larger forces at play in the world — Ancient Highway:

    And when the grass is high and the rabbit runs

    Though it’s talkin’ to you and I

    And every new generation comes to pay

    The dues of the organ grinder jam

    And the grinder’s switch of the sacrifice

    Everybody made to be rational with understanding

    And I’ll be praying to my higher self

    Oh, don’t let me down

    Oh, don’t let me down

    Van Morrison — Ancient Highway:

  100. @Jake

    Screw MLB, their Pervert Pride nights, their $14 beers, their retarded African “music” and constant noise (the dimwitted brutha Incanting over the loudspeakers “E’eebody clap yo hands”), their refusal to do anything about the cursing and cigarette smoke in my kids’ faces in (usually Dodger) stadium and right outside, and their tainting even the national pastime with politics and an immoral, dysfunctional social agenda.

    The worship of the imperial military at the games is getting old too.

    We attend minor league baseball, but it is of course affiliated with MLB. We would strongly prefer some local pro teams not affiliated with MLB.

  101. Ball Four was the basis of one of the great myths that mainstream journalists became addicted to in their descent into narcissistic psychosis. For years, sportswriters have said that after Ball Four, it would be impossible to cover up bad behavior by a star athlete. Sportswriters were now ‘journalists’ and committed to telling the ugly truth no matter the consequences.

    Then we found out that these ‘journalists’ had been covering for Michael Jordan for years. Covering his out of control gambling, womanizing, and abuse of team mates.

    The weird thing to me, is that still believe that they are heroic truth tellers.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  102. @Captain Tripps

    The knuckleball curves all over the place when there is most air resistance, i.e., hot and humid days.

    That meant that knuckleballs become much more hittable in the fall playoffs and World Series.

    Some teams who depended on knuckleball pitchers had to learn this the hard way. 🙂

  103. Little-known Bouton story: He was invited to pose nude for Viva magazine, which wanted to feature a professional athlete. He turned them down, but liked the idea so much that he persuaded his friend Shep Messing of the Cosmos to go in his place.

    Messing was subsequently fired by the team on a morals clause in his contract. He went to the Boston Minutemen.

    If you’ve seen the pictures, though, you’ll agree that the New England Tea Men would have been more fitting.

  104. Hunsdon says:

    I have basically zero interest in baseball, but that is a telling and worthwhile anecdote. Thank you for sharing it.

  105. Hunsdon says:

    From your lips to God’s ears.

    • LOL: BB753
  106. AceDeuce says:

    He also mentioned Mantle’s fondness for booze, playing hungover, etc, as well as his womanizing. He wasn’t overly explicit in his description, but sketched a fairly damning picture. Besides that-as you mentioned, he told a few stories showing MM as kind of a prick at times.

    O/T: Didn’t Bouton also, later in life, start up a baseball league where they played in accordance with 19th Century rules, wearing the same uniforms and using the same equipment?

  107. MBlanc46 says:

    Mr Sailer: I fear that you came to Chicago too late. The White Sox had two of the best knuckle-ballers, Eddie Fisher and Hoyt Wilhelm, in the 1960s. One of the catchers had a special over-sized glove to catch them

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
  108. MBlanc46 says:

    I’ve known people, including myself, to call themselves “68ers”. I’ve never heard anyone refer to himself as a “69er”. Expect, perhaps in a completely different context.

  109. @MBlanc46

    In the 70’s they had Wilbur Wood too.

  110. MBlanc46 says:

    I gave up on major league baseball in 1994, and it’s been all downhill since then. Devil take ‘em.

  111. Hibernian says:

    MLB is the only major pro sport with halfway reasonable prices, at least in Chicago.

    • Replies: @MikeatMikedotMike
  112. Hibernian says:
    @Doc Dynamo

    They weren’t exactly candid about Aaron Rogers’ destruction of the Packers.

  113. @RadicalCenter

    Might I suggest looking for a women’s pro fastpitch softball team in your area. Inexpensive, wholesome, nice scenery, and the games are faster pace and fun to watch.

  114. @Hibernian

    Sorry to brag but I will be attending a wedding tomorrow in which Anthony Rizzo will be a late arriving guest. My cousin (my godmother’s son, actually) the groom stood up in Rizzo’s wedding last year.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  115. @MikeatMikedotMike

    Ask Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs whether he thinks his high On Base Percentage from always being among the league leaders in getting hit by pitches makes up for the damage done to his body. He’s going to turn 30 next month and I suspect he ought to be sacrificing his body for the team less often if he wants to play until he’s 40, which he’s good enough to do if he stays healthy.

    I’m a big fan of Rizzo and Kris Bryant, but I wonder if their strategy of getting hit by pitches a lot really pays off in the long run.

    • Replies: @MikeatMikedotMike
  116. Russ says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    Would it be accurate to say that the 1970s is when the 1960s happened to average people? The rock stars had long hair in the 1960s, but normal men started wearing their hair long in the ’70s?

    In his book Seasons In Hell about covering the 1973-74 Texas Rangers, Mike Shropshire basically makes this very point. Compare high school yearbook pictures from 1968 and 1973 and your conjecture is confirmed.

    My favorite baseball season diary book was The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle. Likely because that 1978 Yankee season was such a hoot.

  117. @Steve Sailer

    No offense Steve but my two daughters have already given me a list of questions for him (my older one went to a Cubs game a few weeks ago, sat behind the Cubs’ dugout, and Baez tossed her a third out ball while he was running off the field; I have to try to get that signed). But I’ll try to squeeze it in there if I even get an opportunity to chat with him. I’m not really counting on it though.

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