Not every book worth reading is leather-bound. Case in point – Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, the book that kickstarted the professional athlete tell-all genre. Frankly, if you’ve ever enjoyed a chuckle at the sight of Chris Duncan humping a Harry Potter book, you owe Ball Four a large debt of gratitude. Bouton’s account of his season with the 1969 Seattle Pilots lifted the veil of secrecy that had previously protected ballplayers’ off-field exploits (I’m looking at you, Babe Ruth and countless bordellos) from public exposure.
Ball Four has been on my to-read list for awhile – any list of baseball books ranks it near the top, and one of the blurbs on the back of my copy compares Bouton’s autobiographical rantings to J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield. That’s ten points right there.
I had planned to hold off on touting the book until I finished it, but yesterday I came upon a list of baseball terminology that simply can’t wait. Loyal readers will remember the Mad Librarian’s previous post regarding baseball’s dirty words. Bouton provides some others:
Down the cock: A pitch that’s right down the middle. God forbid that you throw one down the cock when the batter is standing fully erect in the box.
Hose: A good arm (this is still fairly common, but we missed it before)
So if a guy had hairy arms, he would have a “mossy hose.” Gross.
And then there’s beaver shooting, which is mentioned frequently throughout the book. What does it mean? You’ll have to read Ball Four to find out.
That’s called a tease, son.
P.S. It is highly recommended that you google “urban dictionary babe ruth.”