If a fire, earthquake, flood or another insane Act of God ever threatened the foundation of my home, and there appeared to be just a couple of minutes to grab some prized possessions before bolting out the door, I’d spend more than a few seconds contemplating how many of the seven hard- and paper-back editions of Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” books could be carried out with care.
They have maintained an esteemed spot on the book shelf over the decades. Most of them are personally signed.
There are mix emotions reading that that Bouton’s family has decided to sell off a collection of the quirky materials he used to take notes on during the writing process involved in the 1970 classic — not just cassette tapes, but notes taken on air-sickness bags from airplanes, napkins, cereal boxes, index cards, whatever was available.
But more disheartening is to also read that the 77-year-old Bouton suffered a recent stroke and is unable to correspond well — something I fully appreciated in a back-and-fourth of emails correspondences over the years. And something that just seems impossible based on his personality and curiosity about life and society.
Less than three years ago, the Boston Globe had this story about how Bouton was still “opinionated as ever.” Now …
The Baseball Reliquary celebrated Bouton at the Burbank Central Library in September of 2010 for a 40-year recognition of “Ball Four,” and it was a special afternoon indeed, including the panel discussion with two of Bouton’s former Seattle Pilots teammates — Tommy Davis and Greg Goossen. Bouton was inducted into the organization’s Shrine of the Eternals in 2001.
Terry Cannon, the Baseball Reliquary executive director, said several years ago Bouton send him a binder that itemized the contents of his collection as he started to think about a home for it. Cannon says the binder is now part of the collection at the Institute for Baseball Studies at Whittier College.
“I knew that he wanted to sell the materials so that he would have money to leave behind for his family,” said Cannon. “Although it would have been a wonderful addition to the Reliquary and Institute collections, neither organization has any money in their budgets for an acquisition of this size. What I was hoping to do was find a library or museum that might have the financial wherewithal to purchase Bouton’s archive, but I just couldn’t see an appropriate fit in Southern California. Since Bouton never played or lived here, and it just seemed to me that an East Coast repository made more sense.
“Of course, I was delighted that Jim wanted to sell the archive as one lot, and not sell it off piecemeal, as is often the case when former players decide to liquidate. Having the collection go to one individual or organization makes it more likely that it will be displayed for the public to see, and that organizations like the Reliquary or Institute might be able to borrow pieces for exhibition purposes.
“With the 50th anniversary of ‘Ball Four’ coming up in 2020, there is bound to be many organizations celebrating this milestone. I know that the Reliquary and Institute will be. It would be wonderful if we would be able to access a few pieces from Bouton’s archive to share with our audience at that time.”
SCP Auctions in Laguna Nigel is handling the auction of lot #468, which ends Saturday. Starting bid was $50,000, it is up to $97,000 but the reserve has not been met yet.
The collection includes: Continue reading