'Ball Four': The Book That Changed Baseball

Fifty years ago, a young pitcher won his first major league game for the New York Yankees. Jim Bouton went on to become a top-flight player.

But he became famous, or notorious, for Ball Four, a memoir that described the petty jealousies on the team as well as camaraderie, raucous tomcatting, game-winning heroics, routine drug use, and the pain professional athletes endure.

The book broke the code of silence that kept what really happened in the locker room, on the bus, and on the road off limits. It also contained an immortal line: "You spend your life gripping a baseball," Jim Bouton wrote, "and it turns out that it was the other way around all along."

NPR's Neal Conan talks with Bouton about how he chose what to include and what to leave out, the controversy when Ball Four was published, and how Major League Baseball has changed in the 50 years since that first win.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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