Tracing the Anecdotes in Jim Bouton’s ‘Ball Four’

From SABR member Chris Jaffe at The Hardball Times on May 2:

In the early 1990s, Bill James wrote an annual post-Abstract work called his Baseball Books that featured tracers. A tracer is a story an old ballplayer remembered from bygone days that James would research (or rather, have his then-assistant Rob Neyer research) and see if he can locate the event in the historical record. It’s tricky as memories get hazy and distort some details of what happened.

They were a lot of fun, and Neyer enjoyed them so much that he later did a book of his own, Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Legends, looking up tracers.

Recently, I re-read Jim Bouton‘s famous Ball Four and realized there are numerous stories in it begging for the tracer treatment. On the face of it, Ball Four is an odd choice for tracers. It’s a day-by-day season diary, with each entry noting what happened that day. Hardly an issue of matching memory vs. reality.

True, but Bouton also tells several good stories about his times with the Yankees that occurred years before the book was written. When did those events actually happen? The info is so much easier to look up now with Retrosheet and’s Play Index.

Let’s find out when some of Bouton’s better stories happened.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 4, 2011. Last Updated: May 4, 2011.