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Foul Ball

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2003

    'Meet John Doe' meets 'Field of Dreams'

    Hollywood, where are you? Jim Bouton¿s ¿Foul Ball¿ got everything that anyone could dream up as a perfect film. It¿s ¿Meet John Doe¿ meets ¿Field of Dreams¿. Or better, ¿Meet Joe Doe¿ meets the Three Stooges¿ ¿Scheming Schemers.¿ You got the old ball player (Jim Bouton ¿ like John Doe, the out-of-work pitcher played by Gary Gooper) trying to save a beautiful old ball park (Waconah Park, in Pittsfield Mass ¿ where scores of famous big leaguers played in the minors). You got the fat cats out to get the taxpayers to build them a new stadium. (General Electric Co., the local big bank, and the big fish in a little pond law firm). You got the good-old-boys in city hall (Mayor, his councilors and their hand-picked parks commission). You got the local newspaper, once highly respected, but now owned by a money-first, objectivity-last Denver-based chain, that just happens to own a piece of land ¿perfect¿ for a new taxpayer-financed stadium, possibly to cover a toxic waste site. (Curiously, in ¿Meet John Doe¿ it was a newspaper tycoon who was out to crush John Doe.) You got a hometown boy made good, returning with his multi-millions but looking for a public hand-out ¿ supposedly to help the town but more interested in seeing a stadium built in his honor. And you got a handful of brave local folk who love that old ballpark, and who are fed up with greedy pols and their pals dipping into the taxpayer¿s pocket. The old ball player, Jim Bouton, a local area resident, tries to convince the Mayor and his cronies that his team¿s plan ¿ shocking! with no taxpayer money whatsoever ¿ can bring good baseball back to a restored Waconah Park, where professional ball has been played since 1892. How does it end? Well, the bad guys may have won the first few innings, but the game is not over, and the good guys are still in there swinging ¿- we hope. The book got everything ¿ and if Jim Bouton were to write the screenplay, it would not only be authentic, but as hilarious as his book. Come to think of it, nobody would be better cast than Jim Bouton playing himself. But while we¿re waiting for ¿Foul Ball¿ on the screen, read the book and you¿ll be thanking the Gods of baseball that there are guys like Jim Bouton and his merry team who fight to preserve America¿s history and traditions. --Robert Skole, Boston

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