Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback



All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


Jim Furtado
Founder & Publisher
Editor - Baseball Primer


Jim Bouton Newsbeat

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ball Four, You’re Out: How A Classic Baseball Book Became A Failed Baseball Sitcom

One of the main obstacles Bouton and his co-creators faced in writing the series was the issue of translating ballplayer dialogue to network television in a realistic and/or believable fashion, since Joe Schultz-style epithets were obviously not going to fly on network TV. “You couldn’t say ‘Horseshit,’” Bouton explains. “You could have ‘Horse!’, or maybe ‘Horse-crock!’ There were all sorts of ways they had to neuterize it.” But swearing wasn’t the only aspect of life in the majors that was deemed off-limits; because CBS had scheduled the show to run on Wednesdays during Family Viewing Hour—the FCC had mandated in 1975 that all network shows broadcast in the first hour of prime time must be “family-friendly” in content—CBS’s Standards and Practices department also forbade any spitting, burping, chewing of tobacco, popping of “greenies,” or any other potentially offensive behavior from the show’s characters. “We were not allowed to put any of the grittiness of life in the majors on the screen,” Bouton says. With every network note, Ball Four the sitcom became less and less like Ball Four the book.

If sanitized content was an automatic strike one against Ball Four, then strike two came when the network decided to cast Bouton as the show’s lead. Bouton would portray Jim Barton, an aging pitcher who alienates his teammates on the fictional Washington Americans by writing tell-all pieces for Sports Illustrated. Bouton certainly had the real-life qualifications to play the part, and he’d acquitted himself nicely as the creepy playboy Terry Lennox in Robert Altman’s 1973 production of The Long Goodbye, but sitcom acting was, well, a whole other ballgame. “They probably thought casting me would be inexpensive, because I was not a real actor,” laughs Bouton. “And who knew what a difficult chore that would be?”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 23, 2016 at 06:41 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: ball four, jim bouton, television

Sunday, June 19, 2016



BBTF Partner

Support BBTF


Thanks to
Adam S
for his generous support.


You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOTP 2016 Oct 17: Politics, Sports, and the 'League of Legends' World Championship
(2070 - 9:39pm, Oct 23)
Last: greenback changed his travels

NewsblogWhy Steve Bartman should throw the first pitch at Game 3 of the World Series
(52 - 9:30pm, Oct 23)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogWelcome back, Kyle Schwarber! | 2080 Baseball
(17 - 9:25pm, Oct 23)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogOT: NBA 2016-17 Preseason Thread
(230 - 9:19pm, Oct 23)
Last: jmurph

NewsblogOT: October-November 2016 Soccer Thread
(73 - 9:16pm, Oct 23)
Last: jmurph

Gonfalon CubsNL pennant thread
(35 - 9:13pm, Oct 23)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogNLCS Game 6 Chatter
(675 - 8:55pm, Oct 23)
Last: Howie Menckel

Newsblogred sox - Inside story of David Ortiz's injury: 'He was essentially playing on stumps' - WEEI | Rob Bradford
(31 - 5:35pm, Oct 23)
Last: Walt Davis

Newsblog2016 Season Prediction OMNICHATTER
(80 - 5:13pm, Oct 23)
Last: Kiko Sakata

NewsblogEpstein on Cubs clinching NLCS |
(6 - 5:04pm, Oct 23)
Last: Kiko Sakata

NewsblogSunday Notes: DH Dilemma, Indians, Gallardo, Glasnow, HoF Managers, more | FanGraphs Baseball
(3 - 5:02pm, Oct 23)
Last: escabeche

NewsblogVerlander deal? Astros all-in? Why MLB hot stove could be trade-heavy | New York Post
(3 - 4:55pm, Oct 23)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogProspect Retrospective: Ricky Vaughn, RHP, Cleveland Indians - Minor League Ball
(13 - 2:07pm, Oct 23)
Last: Man o' Schwar

NewsblogESPN: Stark: Why super teams don't win the World Series
(15 - 12:27pm, Oct 23)
Last: BDC

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 2016 Discussion
(6 - 7:17am, Oct 23)
Last: bjhanke

Page rendered in 1.1312 seconds
50 querie(s) executed