Baseball is a sport that revels in nostalgia. Get most American men over a certain age talking about the sport - especially in the spring - and you’ll hear about “the good old days” of trips to the ballpark...told in almost poetic terms.
But in the late '60s, as America was changing, so was baseball. It still held its place as the “national pastime” - a daily ritual that could cross racial and economic lines to bring people together - but it was already quickly being surpassed by football in popularity.
One book, Ball Four, chronicled life in 1969 in the major leagues. The controversial book rocked the baseball world with revelations about the off-field arguments, drug use and womanizing The author of the book, Jim Bouton was still an active player at the time and the book was not popular within the baseball community. Bouton joins us to discuss his career and the legacy of this book - which has just been released in e-book form.
Our first guest has written about the previous summer: Tim Wendell’s book is Summer of ‘68: The Season That Changed Baseball and America Forever. He weaves together the stories of that season - the Detroit Tigers going for a world series win, one year after tragic riots ripped apart the town. The St. Louis Cardinals as the best team in baseball - with the best pitcher, the menacing Bob Gibson - as well as the stories outside baseball - the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.