Where second is always first!
Updated on 07/13/2019
“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 (1939 – 2019)
It was sad news to learn of the passing of Jim Bouton yesterday, one of the most fascinating and notorious sports figures in U.S. baseball history. A former fastball pitcher until he blew his arm out, Bouton went on to become an advocate for the difficult-to-master-but-difficult-to-hit knuckleball. His most lasting contribution to the sport, however, was something that many people at the time thought would actually bring it down — his eye-opening book Ball Four. In it, Bouton gave a very honest look at the lives of baseball players over the course of the season, while also dealing with his own struggles with his fading talent and knowledge that his best pitching days were behind him. Many thought it a too-real account of the lives of baseball players.
What’s funny about it today is how tame it seems compared to the drugs, sex, and violence scandals of contemporary athletes. About the worst thing in Ball Four was the drinking and drunkenness that Bouton detailed. There wasn’t even any weird sex with hookers or anything like that. A little carousing, a lot of drinking, some hijinks, some salty language, and rampant amphetamine use. But with American what it was, and baseball what it is, the book got a lot of play and pissed off a great many people. Bouton, however, was a cool cat all along. Today, it’s considered one of the finest books ever written about baseball or any sport.
In full SilverMedals.net fashion, we celebrate the “seconds” of the late Jim Bouton, an intelligent and funny person who happened to have also been a Major League Baseball player. He was a man of many “seconds” in his life — second careers, second teams, second wives, second books, second chances — all because he possessed un unyielding tenacity and continuous curiosity about his life, baseball, and the world around him. He will be missed.
Second team: Seattle Pilots (1969)
Second book: I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally (1971)
Second marriage: Paula Kurman
Second sportscaster gig: WCBS-TV
Second-best pitching season: 1964
Second season in the Majors: 1963