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Remembering “Ball Four” -- the TV show

Jim Bouton Releases "Ball Four: The Final Pitch"

382468 01: Former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton signs copies of his new book, “Ball Four: The Final Pitch” November 27, 2000 at a Waldenbooks store in Schaumburg, IL. “Ball Four: The Final Pitch” is a new and final edition of his controversial 1970 book titled “Ball Four” that has sold more than five million copies worldwide its 30-year life. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Newsmakers)

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Almost all baseball fans are aware of Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four.” If not, please log off right this second, find a copy of “Ball Four” and read it. It’s the best baseball book ever written and, even if it’s 46 years old, it will enlighten you about baseball and baseball players in ways you’ll be thankful for the rest of your baseball-watching life.

Not everyone knows, however, that “Ball Four” was turned into a TV show. CBS greenlighted a sitcom about it, written by and starring Bouton himself. It was . . . not good. It certainly was not popular. After only four episodes aired in the fall of 1976, it was cancelled. Apart from the opening credits and theme song, it has been lost to history.

Thankfully lost if Dan Epstein’s article at Vice Sports is any guide. He recently talked to Bouton and others about the ill-fated sitcom version of the literary classic. Bouton is under no illusions that it was a good show and admits that he was (a) in over his head when it came to writing for TV and acting; and (b) super happy that it was cancelled so he could go back to his real life. Which, among other things, involved an on-the-field major league comeback in 1978.

Go read Dan’s article. And then ask yourself, does what you learned over there and the opening credits below suggest to you that we lost anything by losing the TV version of “Ball Four?”

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