Lest you think I’ve stopped reading the baseball books, I recently finished reading the updates to the original Ball Four, published as Ball Four: the Final Pitch, in 2001. It was great. Here Bouton talks about his comeback, in 1978, with the Atlanta Braves, how that happened, and why. He talks about his marriage ending and about meeting his future wife, and their life together. And he tells about the death of his daughter Laurie in a car accident in 1997, how that changed him, and how he survived.
Later, thinking about the book, it occurred to me that it was a lot like a personal letter written to an old friend – there’s that level of familiarity and that sort of relaxed sort of story-telling. Which made me think, “when was the last time I wrote a letter to anyone?” Delivered by the U.S. postal service? It’s been a few years, and I imagine that’s the way it is for most people now. Thousands of emails, no letters. It’s just not the same, I think you’d agree. A hand-written letter is totally a different experience. For one, in my case, it would be much more difficult to read. Penmanship is another thing that has faded into the mists of time.
I’ve got one more Bouton book on my shelf – the book he wrote about trying to save an old ball park in a small town in New York. I don’t know the whole story around that, but I’m looking forward to the book. Like a letter waiting to be read.