Special Sub-Topic: Jim Bouton's "Ball Four"
|What are the first words of "Ball Four?"|
I'm 30 years old and I have these dreams. From the book's introduction. Jim Bouton dreams of reviving the pitching glory he once had, using his new knuckleball pitch, then being traded to a contender and helping them down the stretch. The dreams, wrote Bouton, answer a lot of why he did what he did.
|What is "The Flame?"|
A "restaurant" used in a practical joke. March 4: Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, the "coolest" of the Yankees of the early 60s, invited Phil Linz and Joe Pepitone to join them for a night on the town in Detroit, starting at a restaurant called The Flame. "Ask for Mickey Mantle's table," they were told. After taking a cab into a bad part of the city, they found an abandoned and burned-out building with a crooked sign that said "The Flame." No Mantle, no Ford, no table, as Bouton told the story.
|"One of these days, maybe I'll figure out how to" do something, writes Bouton at one point. "It sounds like a valuable pitching weapon." Do what?|
Zitz a guy. On June 20, Bouton sits listening to the coaches break down the opposing lineup, hoping for valuable insight. For John "Buck" Martinez, the manager blusters, "We'll just zitz him." An unending supply of advice like that prompted Bouton to write later in the book, "Some of us would run through a cheesecloth curtain for that man."
|What is Joe Schultz's seemingly constant companion whenever Bouton wants to discuss getting more time in the pitching rotation?|
A liverwurst sandwich. On April 30 and May 7, among others, Jim is trying to talk to Joe Schultz to make a case to start a game, and Schultz seems preoccupied with the liverwurst sandwich he's eating. Many of Bouton's sentences from his meetings with Joe Schultz end with the words, "taking a bite out of his liverwurst sandwich."
|During Bouton's stint in the minors, what form of poisoning does he claim to suffer?|
Mai tai. Shortly after Bouton's assignment in Vancouver begins, the team travels to Hawaii for a series, where he is quickly introduced to mai tais, a native Hawaiian drink. He enjoys the mai tais, but dubs their lingering hangovers "mai tai poisoning."
|What cartoon character impersonation did Marty Pattin frequently draw laughs with?|
Donald Duck having an orgasm. His Donald Duck impression is mentioned a couple times in the book. The routine was a bullpen favorite.
|Eddie O'Brien is called "Mr. Small Stuff" because of:|
His obsession with meaningless matters. Bullpen coach Eddie O'Brien is finally tagged with the "Mr. Small Stuff" nickname on May 1, but earns it well before that, by fixating on such unimportant things as where to eat sunflower seeds, how to wear a baseball cap, wearing sunglasses, etc.
|What does Joe Schultz say when he sees a player's wife drinking a Coke?|
You'll never make it on that, my dear.. This comes from an August 19 party that the team's owner had at his house. "You better write that down, Bouton," one of the Pilots says. His teammates were starting to get suspicious with all his note-taking.
|What could be better than a Fourth of July double-header in Kansas City?|
Everything up to and including a kick in the [rear]. From July 4, obviously. The heat and the humidity made it downright unpleasant.
|Who were George Saviano and Al Gornie?|
The founders of the Jim Bouton fan club. The two had sent Bouton a letter early in his career, before he was famous, asking if they could start a fan club.
|What does "ding dong" mean in the book?|
A pitched ball hitting the catcher in his protective cup. "Ding Dong," one of the nicknames for Bouton's roommate and fellow pitcher Gary Bell, is the sound of a pitched ball hitting a catcher's cup.
|When Mike Hegan is filling out a public relations questionnaire, what is the first answer he proposes to the question "What is the most difficult thing about playing major-league baseball?"|
Explaining to your wife why *she* needs a penicillin shot for *your* kidney infection. The dual lives led by the players when they were on the road vs. at home were alluded to all throughout the book.
|At Cafe Bohemia in Washington DC, what did Eddie O'Brien have for dinner?|
Lambchops. Cafe Bohemia served African and other exotic food. While Bouton and Mike Marshall were eating there, they saw Eddie "Mr. Small Stuff" O'Brien and tried to guess what he'd order. They picked fried chicken or steak. He ordered lambchops. "We were both right," Bouton wrote.
|Which of the following is most closely-related to "chin music?"|
Purpose pitch. This was a discussion of baseball slang. "Chin music" is pitching in tight to the hitter near his chin. If done intentionally, it's a "purpose pitch." Kicks are shoes and hose is an arm.
|Which player listed below never roomed with Jim Bouton in "Ball Four?"|
Tommy Davis. Although Bouton asked Tommy Davis to room with him in Houston (September 15), Davis demurred. Bob Lasko was Bouton's roommate in Vancouver. Mike Marshall roomed with Bouton in Kansas City, before getting sent to the minors after just three days. Steve Hovley became his roommate on August 5 in Boston.
|The Pilots' official team photo was taken between July 25 and July 27. What is one thing below that does NOT help us know this?|
Bouton's stories about the photo session. This is a hard question because the Pilots' team photo is not included in the original edition of Ball Four, although it's been in each of the decennial sequels to the book. The picture was taken at Sicks' Stadium, in front of a scoreboard showing the Pilots about to play Boston. During Jim's time with the team, they played Boston in Seattle twice. The first time was on May 6 - but Fred Talbot is in the team photo and he wasn't traded to the Pilots until May 20. So the most likely time the team photo was taken was July 25-27, the second time the Sox were in Seattle. That was the only time with both Talbot and Bouton on the team and the Pilots hosting the Red Sox.
|What children's TV show did Bouton mention frequently in the book?|
Howdy Doody. He tells of his joy at meeting Buffalo Bob Smith (Howdy Doody host) at a drug store, and singing the theme song to him. There are numerous other Howdy Doody references throughout the book.
|During an insult contest, who or what does Merritt Ranew say Fred Talbot looked like?|
A perch. Talbot said that Ranew was stupid because everyone from the south (Ranew was from Georgia) is dumb. Ranew counters that where he comes from, the men look better. Talbot tells Ranew that he looks like a "sissy" who goes to a beauty parlor. And Ranew puts him away by saying Talbot looks like a "perch" with a square head, bulging eyes, and hardly any nose.
|Why did baseball players love Washington DC's Shoreham Hotel so much?|
The layout. Bouton memorably describes the Shoreham and how popular it was among ballplayers for its layout. The L-shaped wings made it possible to go up on to the roof (oh how different it was back in 1969) and peer down into other rooms. Bouton remembered many trips to the roof with the Yankees, often with Mickey Mantle along for the fun, thinking to himself, "so this is the big leagues."
|Where was Jim Bouton when he found out he'd been traded to Houston?|
Baltimore. Jim was lying in bed in his Baltimore hotel room on August 26 when his manager called to tell him he'd been traded to the Astros. His roommate Steve Hovley told him he couldn't go because they were supposed to go to the art museum that afternoon, something he was still bugging Jim about in the 2000 update to the book. Jim places a quick phone call from his hotel to the Pilots' traveling secretary to arrange a flight to St. Louis to join the Astros - but after spilling his guts, learns that he's just dialed a wrong number and is speaking to a stranger who is with Kimberly Clark. The stranger tells Bouton that what he's just heard is interesting, and that he'll keep it to himself.
|What was "Proud to be an Astro?"|
A raunchy ditty that the Astro players sing. Upon joining the team, Bouton was quickly taught the words to "Proud to be an Astro," the R-rated song that the players sing in the back of the bus.
|Where did Jim's family live in September 1969 while he was with the Astros?|
At Astroworld Hotel. That made for such hijinks as shaking out a bedspread of potato chip crumbs in front of a cocktail party unfolding on a nearby patio. They paid "$20 a day for $40 worth of rooms!"
|Jim was traded to Houston for Dooley Womack. How else does Dooley Womack make an appearance in "Ball Four?"|
Jim's manager compared him to Dooley Womack after he had a splendid spring training. On March 4, Jim talked about how in 1967, he pitched 25 marvelous innings in spring training, perhaps his best spring ever, and thought he was doing great, and his manager, Ralph Houk came up to him and quietly told him that he was having "a better spring than Dooley Womack." Bouton wrote that he just sat there shaking his head at the faint praise.
|In scolding the team after a sloppy loss, who did Harry Walker say they looked like?|
Tom Thumb. After a September 24 loss to the Braves, who went on to win the division, Harry calls a team meeting. Most of the players are used to these dressing downs, but it's new to Bouton and he almost starts laughing out loud when Walker says "You guys look like Tom Thumb," then goes on to say "You look like you're going downhill on a scooter."
|Finish the book as Jim did: "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.. As those who followed Jim's life and writing after "Ball Four" know, he never did free himself from baseball's grip. He sacrificed a promising broadcasting career to play baseball at the lowest levels in the mid-70s, leading to a 1978 return to the major leagues with the Atlanta Braves. He continued to pitch in organized amateur leagues into the 1990s. If you haven't read the book - or if you only read the original - go out and get "Ball Four - the Final Pitch" covering in fascinating detail 30 years of his life after writing the book, including updates on many of the characters from the Yankees and Pilots and Astros.
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