“keen, sparkling, outrageous, hilarious…”

Well, I just finished rereading one of my old Jim Bouton book’s, I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally.

bouton - glad you didn't take it personally sm

$1.25? When could you get a paperback for $1.25?

1973 is when.

This is only the second time I’ve read this. Despite the cover blurbs, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was “uproarious.” The hype on the back cover says “…Bouton rips the covers off a whole new set of big names and sacred cows – to leave his victims howling and the public cheering!” And I wouldn’t go that far either. But I guess they’ll say anything to sell a book.

I did enjoy the book – Bouton talks about the trouble he got into by writing the Ball Four book, how that book came to be, and how he started out in his broadcasting career. He also looks at how some of the people he wrote about in the first book reacted to it, and that was an interesting mix. While the most upsetting thing, for a lot of folks, seemed to be his criticism of Mickey Mantle, Mantle’s only public comment about the book was “Jim who?” Reaction among the players seemed to run the gamut, but at the same time there seemed to be a lot of institutional pressure to slam the book and slam the author. Which wasn’t very pleasant for Jim. But I’m sure some of the players also had a difficult time with their portrayal in the book, and I could see how some players might have felt betrayed. As I get older, I find that I try not to take things so seriously – I guess that’s the perspective you get with aging, and not one readily available when you are in your 20s and 30s.

There’s a healthy dose of introspection in this Bouton book – and it seemed refreshing, someone asking questions of themselves, asking why they are the way they are. We all probably do some of this, but I don’t seem to see a lot of it in print. (Probably just the books I choose to read.) In this book Bouton talks about some of his experiences, growing up, which have led him down the path of someone who questions the status quo, and who stands up for things he believes in. bouton c sm fr

I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally was a nice little follow-up to Ball Four, and a fairly quick read.  Finishing that first book, it did leave you with questions about, well, what happened next? This one tells you what happened next, and gives a bit more insight into Mr. Bouton.

For later this year, I have the Bouton book I haven’t read yet – Foul Ball – about his efforts to save an old, small-town ballpark. I am looking forward to that. Plus, I think there’s an updated edition of it out there, telling us… what happened next.

Thanks for keeping us updated, Jim.

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2 thoughts on ““keen, sparkling, outrageous, hilarious…”

  1. Baseball has never really cottoned to mavericks, and Bouton was about as off-the-reservation as they came by daring to write anything that put the game in a negative light. Bill Veeck got the same treatment, and his books make for some great reading. It probably isn’t quite so rigid today, but I’ve got a feeling that if you wanted to do things differently, you had a hard row to hoe in the majors decades ago.

    Nice review – I’ll have to pick this one up. Ball Four was a pretty good read, if I remember right.

    • You are right, and especially so about baseball in the 60s – it was pretty conservative/establishment oriented during all that late 60s upheaval. Perhaps a bit more open now, to new ideas, as long as they don’t hurt the bottom line.

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