National Pastime Radio: A bonanza!

April 17, 2012 · 2 comments

The airwaves sure have been busy over the past few days.

♦ Jim Abbott (Imperfect: An Improbable Life) was a guest on yesterday’s Leonard Lopate Show. I find it interesting that the subtitle does not include “Baseball,” as in “An Improbable Baseball Life.”

♦ John Grisham, author of Calico Joe  was a guest on Only a Game (interview here). The piece also features Bill Littlefield’s review of the book, which is surprisingly meh (example, “[S]ome of the baseball elements of Calico Joe struck me as carelessly executed, or perhaps insufficiently edited.”).

Photo by Richard Drew/AP

♦ But the piece de resistance is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, which visited Boston for their most recent show. The guest on the “Not My Job” segment: Jim Bouton, author of Ball Four.

Here’s the transcript. At one point Bouton discusses pitching in Boston and when he started with the details, I just had to check it out, based on Moose Skowron’s visit to the show in 2009.

Here’s the eyebrow-raising section:

BOUTON: I loved pitching in Fenway Park. I thought it was a great experience.

SAGAL: You enjoyed it?

BOUTON: I loved it.

SAGAL: Did you enjoy infuriating the crowd?

BOUTON: Well, my best one was – I don’t know if you remember – when Dick Radatz, the monster, 6’8″ guy, a big guy, a great relief pitcher.


BOUTON: And he would come in to the ninth inning and he would strike out the side: Mantle, Maris and Tresh. And he would walk off the mound with his arms raised over his head. And he was the monster. And the crowd would roar. Well, on a Sunday I pitched and I pitched a shutout. And I decided that it would be a good idea to walk off the mound…

SAGAL: Sure.

BOUTON: With my arms over my head.

So thanks to the miracle of Baseball Reference we learn that, first of all, that Radatz was “only” 6’6″, which is a fairly minor flub. He pitched for Boston from 1962-mid 1966, so the game in question has to be within that time frame.

Bouton was with the Yankees from 1962-68, but did not have any shutouts from 1965-68. He had one in 1962, six in ’63, and four in ’64. It didn’t take long to determine that Bouton was spot on: On Sunday, June 23, 1963, he pitched an 8-0 shutout against the Sox in Fenway; he also tossed a 5-0 goose-egger on Aug. 27 — a Tuesday — at Yankee Stadium.

Later in the segment he complained about a couple of things he disliked in the modern game, including a batter showing up a pitcher on a home run trot. He said, ” In our day, you hit a home run, you put your head down and you ran around the bases. You went into the dugout and you shut up.” Which is why I find it a little hard to picture Radatz celebrating as Bouton described. But he was right about the shutout, so…

Wait Wait even opened on a baseball note and one of the questions in “Who’s Carl This Time,” featured a certain Major League manager who’s run afoul of the PC police. The episode ended with a return to have the panelists speculate on what said manager would do for an “encore,” but by that time, with host Peter Sagal rattling of the credits rapid-fire, I usually tune out.


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  • Dennis Anderson

    Hi Ron.
    Last year I got an subscription and have enjoyed it. This month I picked up “Ball Four,” which is read by Jim Bouton. It was just posted on the Audible site.

    I’ve read “Ball Four” several times over the past 35 years, but I got new enjoyment out of this audiobook version. The editing isn’t great, but what is outstanding is Bouton’s laughter at some stories. He actually cracks himself up. It was like he was rediscovering his work as he was reading it.

    It’s also heartbreaking when he reads from one of the updates about his daughter’s death in an automobile accident. You almost cry along with him as he relives that day and the months after it. Bouton brings “Ball Four” to life — again.


  • Ron_Kaplan

     That’s an interesting point, Dennis. Usually the author doesn’t read his own work, but who better to know what s/he thinks it should sound like?

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