Former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton worked tirelessly to save Wahconah Park, one of the country’s oldest baseball parks, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. This is the behind-the-scenes story of his struggle against local business and government interests—told with characteristic wit and color.
In his first diary since Ball Four, Jim Bouton recounts his amazing adventure trying to save a historic ballpark in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Host to organized baseball since 1892, Wahconah Park was soon to be abandoned by the owner of the Pittsfield Mets, who would move his team to a new stadium in another town–an all too familiar story.
Enter Bouton and his partner with the best deal ever offered to a community–a locally owned professional baseball team and a privately restored city-owned ballpark at no cost to the taxpayers.
The only people who didn’t like Bouton’s plan were the Mayor, the Mayor’s hand-picked Parks Commissioners, a majority of the City Council, the only daily newspaper, the city’s largest bank, it’s most powerful law firm, and a guy from General Electric. Everyone else–or approximately 98% of the citizens of Pittsfield–loved it.
The “good old boys” hated Bouton’s plan because it would put a stake in the heart of a proposed $18.5 million baseball stadium–a new stadium that the citizens of Pittsfield had voted against three different times!
In what one reviewer called “that same humane, sarcastic voice” Bouton unmasks a mayor who brags that “the fix is in,” a newspaper that lies to its readers, and a government that operates out of a bar.
But maybe the most incredible story is what happened after Foul Ball was self-published–a story in itself. Invited back by a new mayor, Bouton and his partner raise $1.2 million, help discover a document dating Pittsfield’s baseball origins to 1791, and stage a vintage game that’s broadcast live by ESPN-TV.
Who could have guessed what would happen next? And that this time it would involve the Massachusetts Attorney General?
“What Foul Ball shares with Ball Four,” wrote John Feinstein, “is Bouton’s humor… and a remarkable tale that–if you didn’t trust the author–you would find difficult to believe.”
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