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'Ball Four' part of local display

Anniversary of groundbreaking book by Jim Bouton is part of Baseball Reliquary exhibition at Burbank Central Library.

August 10, 2010|By Jeff Tully,

The Baseball Reliquary has enjoyed an ongoing association with the Burbank Central Library.

For a number of years, the library has hosted a variety of baseball-related events and displays put on by the San Gabriel Valley-based organization.

The library again is playing host to another event provided by the Baseball Reliquary.

The "Ball Four Turns Forty," exhibition began Monday and will run through Oct. 1 at the facility located at 110 N. Glenoaks Blvd.


The exhibition celebrates one of the great books in American literature, Jim Bouton's "Ball Four," on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its publication. The exhibition is housed win the lobby display cases at the Burbank Central Library.

Along with the display, Bouton will be in attendance at a day-long event at the library in September.

"We have a couple of places that we like to bring our exhibitions to every year, and Burbank is one of them," said Terry Cannon, executive director of the Baseball Reliquary. "The library is very supportive and they do an exceptional job at helping us accommodate the displays.

"But along with the exhibitions, they are very good at helping us with the special events."

Perhaps former Major League pitcher Jim Bouton's greatest impact on the game came as the author of "Ball Four," published in 1970. It is arguably the most influential baseball book ever written, and one which forever changed the face of sportswriting and the public's conception of what it means to be a professional athlete.

Bouton had considerable success with the New York Yankees, including two World Series victories over the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964, before suffering arm problems in 1965. However, his book is a diary of Bouton's attempt to resurrect his career as a knuckleball pitcher with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros in 1969.

Ball Four was vilified by the baseball establishment for its candid depiction of the sex-obsessed lives of Major League players, the pernicious conduct of ownership and management and the intolerance to nonconformists such as the author himself — who was distrusted even by his teammates for his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War and his strong pro-union stance in the locker room.

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