The literal meaning of the title, Ball Four, is when the batter is thrown four balls by the pitcher and is walked to first base. This usually happens when the pitcher is down in the count and is in a bad position. Bouton was a knuckle ball pitcher because he didn’t have a great fastball: “I can’t get it over the plate consistently, and when I get behind I have to come in with the fastball, which somehow isn’t too fast” (Bouton 108). This explains that the knuckle ball is hard to get over the plate consistently so it is easy to walk a hitter. Some pitchers are told by their managers to intentionally walk a hitter because they usually aren’t good enough to get the hitter out. Walks can happen even based off something that is not in the pitchers control. For example: “The catcher dropped a foul pop and then the hitter walked. He scored on a double, which was the only well-hit ball off me” (Bouton 93). This quote explains that walks can happen by a mistake on someone else’s part. Also, the quote says that walks usually lead to worse things like runs. Ball four or a walk can rattle a pitcher emotionally and mentally.
Ball Four has many figurative meanings, as well. Figuratively, it means that Jim is having a bad season and is punished for his poor play. He had several bad pitching outings which led to something that all players dread, getting traded. The first time he got traded: “Instead he sold me to Seattle. Okay, so I had a lousy year there” (Bouton 32). This quote clarifies that Jim was sent to Seattle from New York because he was having a bad season. This relates to the title Ball Four because ball four means blown chances and bad outcomes. Jim blew his chance with staying on the team by having a bad season and as a result got traded. Another instance where Jim Bouton was “ball foured” was when he got traded to the Houston Astros. This time he was traded for a different reason. Jim was just not good enough in relief. He wasn’t consistent and didn’t have too many good outings. I also think the book is named Ball Four because when you give up a lot of walks you get traded and when you’re traded you are bounced all over the league. Bouton was traded to Seattle, Houston, and Atlanta over the course of his career. A pitcher is supposed to strikeout a hitter, but Jim has failed to do so because he had so many walks, hence the title Ball Four. Since Jim has failed several times to strike out hitters he has failed at being a Major League pitcher. Ball four for a pitcher is the same for striking out as a hitter and Jim, he struck out big time.
Word Count 485