Ball Four, by Jim BoutonRead about the other entries on the list.
Jim Bouton was a pitcher for the Seattle Pilots in 1969, the only year this MLB team existed. In this zany 1970 book, Bouton gives a behind-the-scenes look at baseball, including the players’ rampant use of methamphetamines, interpersonal squabbles, ogling of women, and Mickey Mantle’s drinking problem. Bouton got into a lot of trouble for writing it—he was ostracized by fellow players—but his witty voice and honesty about his decline as an athlete are what make it still entertaining and insightful today. “Baseball players are smarter than football players,” he writes. “How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many men on the field?”
Ball Four is among Claire Zulkey's top seven books for sports fans and Tim McGarver's five best baseball books.