While both men have written books that named names and exposed clubhouse secrets, “Ball Four” author Jim Bouton bristles at comparisons to Jose Canseco. From the Tampa Tribune’s Martin Fennelly.
Look, I haven’t read Jose’s book, but I already know that putting his words next to “Ball Four” will be like comparing Olivier as Hamlet to Patrick Swayze in “Road House.”
Long before Canseco, Bouton shattered the clubhouse code of silence. He was a traitor, a leper. But he wasn’t Jose. Tell all? Bouton didn’t. He had his own code. He didn’t name names in sex stories. “Ball Four” is tame by modern standards. But then, so is Caligula, who today would be just another guy waiting to audition for “The Apprentice.”
“Ball Four” was hilarious. Will Jose’s book make us laugh? OK, maybe the Devil Rays part will. Wilson Alvarez on steroids? Which season, 6-14 one, the 9-9 or the 2-3?
But will Jose’s book be historic? Bouton’s was. His best-seller skewered petty, penny-pinching owners. In 1975, baseball’s reserve clause fell. At one legal hearing, Bouton (above) read “Ball Four” passages. They were admitted as evidence. Jim Bouton, revolutionary. Jose Canseco, opportunist.
“He’s a known jerk who didn’t take a note in his life, I’m sure,” Bouton said. “He had a chance to say something while he was playing. I wrote while I was playing ball. If he had something to say, say it then.”
“I don’t like being the same category as Jose Canseco,” Jim Bouton said. “That’s it. I don’t even want to be in the same paragraph with him … I’d be happy to talk to you about almost anything else. There’s hardly a thing I don’t have an opinion on.”
While not disagreeing with Fennelly, I should mention that there are some very smart people who have seen “Road House”, many, many times.