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Foul Ball

Foul Ball

5.0 1
by Jim Bouton

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Foul Ball is the behind-the-scenes story of Bouton's efforts to save Wahconah Park, one of the oldest ballparks in the United States, located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, not far from his home in the Berkshires. With his trademark wit and distinctive voice, Bouton recounts his battle against the local power elite, who wanted to build a new stadium to replace


Foul Ball is the behind-the-scenes story of Bouton's efforts to save Wahconah Park, one of the oldest ballparks in the United States, located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, not far from his home in the Berkshires. With his trademark wit and distinctive voice, Bouton recounts his battle against the local power elite, who wanted to build a new stadium to replace Wahconah Park, a project the citizens had voted against three different times.But Foul Ball is more than a hilarious romp about saving an old ballpark. In a detailed diary-his first since Ball Four-Bouton takes us along on his wild ride, into the teeth of corporate malfeasance, anti-democratic process, the tyranny of a one-newspaper town, and the real reason why the good old boys wanted to build a new stadium.

Editorial Reviews

John Feinstein
"Now in his fifth decade of telling the truth no matter the consequences, Bouton proves that a badly-run city government can be just as dangerous---and just as hilarious---as a badly-run baseball team."

"What it shares with Ball Four is Bouton's humor, his sense of what's right and wrong, and a remarkable tale that---if you didn't trust the author---you would find difficult to believe."
AOL Sports

David Kipen
"An irresistible story whose outcome remains in doubt until the very end. Not just a funny book, but a patriotic one."
San Francisco Chronicle
The Capital Times
"Erin Brokovich meets Fields of Dreams."
Publishers Weekly
This former Yankee pitcher, who wrote the sports tell-all template Ball Four, has a self-conscious voice that almost stifles this compelling story of Pittsfield, Mass., residents resisting a new stadium in order to renovate historic Wahconah Park instead. Bouton fancies himself both "pariah" and U.S. marshal, and writes one public official, "we have always tried to be respectful.... Go take a shower." But he accomplishes his goal of making the oldest minor league ballpark in America a metaphor for business interests run amok whatever the costs politically, environmentally and, yes, financially. When he points to former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani's nearly successful (yet minority-view) efforts to build new stadiums for the Mets and the Yankees despite a multibillion-dollar budget gap, Bouton is persuasive. But when Bouton declares his own motives are to "save an old ballpark, make some money, have fun," he is less so because he seems to delight in all the chicanery. Still, his commitment is beyond question; the book includes not only news accounts and e-mails, but even instant-messaging exchanges. At 354 pages,it's exhausting, but also heartfelt. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Bouton pitched for the New York Yankees in the 1960s, when such legends as Mickey Mantle starred for the team. His real claim to fame, though, was his tell-all diary, Foul Ball, which became an instant classic-and, to the baseball establishment, made him a permanent pariah. With this new diary, he again bucks authority by questioning America's need for publicly financed stadiums. He regards this feverish trend as a scam that the well-heeled perpetuate at the expense of the struggling tax payer and common fan. Bouton illustrates his argument by focusing on his hometown, Pittsfield, MA, where a highly rated stadium called Wahconah Park still fills a serviceable role. Wahconah Park is so old that the great Lou Gehrig played here some 80 years ago. The fans love it, but the city fathers and big business want to tear it down and replace it. Bouton here details the struggle to preserve this landmark. His self-published offering is a cautionary tale for us all. Recommended for most collections.-Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Populist maverick, pariah of professional baseball bigwigs, Bouton (Strike Zone, 1994, etc.) tells of his efforts to preserve-and a coven of movers-and-shakers and good-old-boys to abandon-a historic baseball park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. When it comes to baseball parks, writes Bouton, " 'If we build it, they will come' has evolved into 'If we don't build it, they will go,' " referring to the rash of new, economically dubious stadiums. Pittsfield's Wahconah Park, built in 1892, one of the oldest in the US, was about to become another of these statistics, until Bouton and his comrade-in-arms Chip Elitzer decided to offer an alternative to the $18.5-million, pork-barrel proposal for a new stadium: "We'll spend private dollars to renovate an existing ballpark for a locally owned team." Bouton-as zealous to entertain his readers with tangy one-liners as he is in uncovering the myriad corruption, deals, and fixes that attended the drive for a new stadium-adroitly manages a number of stories at once. There's the backroom power-brokering, ego-strutting, and just plain greed of making taxpayers foot the bill for a stadium they have time-and-again voted down in referendums; the historic importance of old ballparks, with their quirks and intimacy and evocation of the game's past; and an environmental subplot: the land being touted for the new stadium may be a toxic dump. Capping it with a ballpark would put paid to the millions of dollars it would cost to clean it up. (Bouton points fingers, too, at other infamous polluters-General Electric, for instance. After a GE lawyer was set to invest in PublicAffairs, Bouton's intended and enthusiastic publisher, PublicAffairs suddenly requested thatthe GE material be excised. Bouton smelled a rat-et voilà: a self-published work.) A good, if at times windy, story. Even if his proposal got smothered by the small-city political weight, he got the voice of Pittsfield's regular folk heard and the ballpark saved, for now.

Product Details

Bulldog Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.44(h) x 1.48(d)

What People are Saying About This

Kurt Vonnegut
"Jim Bouton had to self-publish this triumphant and exhilarating book [in hardcover]. Why? Certain politicians and corporation big shots do not want some facts to be known, so they did their best to kill it. Bouton himself has never been more full of life."
Bill Moyers
"Another truth teller that deserves to be a bestseller."
Frank Deford
"It is the things that Jim Bouton loves that he perceives so well, but that sometimes disappoint him so. Like, say, baseball and democracy. FOUL BALL is the wonderfully wrenching tale about both."

Meet the Author

Jim Bouton was a major league pitcher for the New York Yankees, Seattle Pilots, Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. His book, Ball Four, was entered into evidence at the decisive arbitration hearing that led to free-agency in baseball, and the New York Public Library included it as one of its Books of the Century.

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Foul Ball 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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