By Tom Hoffarth
The passing of Jim Bouton last week at age 80 was pause to reflect on his career not so much as a major-league pitcher, but for what he delivered to journalism in the form of “Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues.”
We are thankful we have a place to express our own reflections and cherished personal encounters in this week’s Los Angeles Times media piece.
We’ve done pieces on Bouton in the past, and enjoyed every moment, from paragraph to end quote.
A 2003 piece on his book, “Foul Ball,” gave us a chance to even challenge our own bosses at the time. We are thankful he posted it on his own official website.
In 2010, we caught up with Bouton in Burbank, for another treat, also with old friend Greg Goossen, Bouton’s former Seattle Pilots teammate who became a memorable character in “Ball Four.”
In 2017, we wrote about how the notes and recordings Bouton did for “Ball Four” were up for public auction. The collection never met the required minimum, and never sold. Which is fine, since it found its way to the Library of Congress, although money from that sale could have helped with Bouton’s medical expenses. Read more
Tag Archives: Jane Leavy
By Tom Hoffarth
A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: BABE RUTH HAS BEEN FRAMED … AS THE ORIGINAL ATHLETE-ENTERTAINER (WITH THE HELP OF A SPORTSWRITER)
When the White House announced last week Babe Ruth would be a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a ceremony this Friday, Jane Leavy couldn’t help but tweet out: “ ‘Bout time. Only been dead 70 years.”
Comparably, it took Leavy just eight years of ruthless research, reflection and refinement before her 600-plus-page book entitled “The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created” started thumping itself down in best-seller lists and renewing conversation about how media-based star power can be construed over the last century span.
Historical tomes about the Ruth as recently as Leigh Montville’s “The Big Bam” in 2006, playing off Robert Cremer’s “Babe: The Legend Comes to Life” in 1974, were not able to exhume as much about his true childhood or debunk mythology as much as Leavy could do with modern forensic techniques.
Did this book’s well-received publication bring new veritas toward some Trump-endorsed recognition? If anything, it confirms Leavy’s refreshed narrative of how we continue to learn and marvel at Ruth’s launch angle for athlete/entertainer more than 100 years later.
Here’s the rest of the story we posted at the L.A. Times.
* Here’s also more Q&A we have with Leavy at FartherOffTheWall.com.
* A special historical-based piece for the Long Beach Post
* And here’s an excerpt of the book from SI.com.
Also did you know: Barnes & Noble has a special edition/signed copy of “The Big Fella” that includes an essay after the index about Leavy’s relationship with the late, great Red Smith. Order that one here or visit your local store.