Former Major League pitcher and author of Ball Four, Jim Bouton, is going to self-publish his next book according to PW NewsLine:
- the author, who has a reputation as something of a loose-canon, is uncorking a high hard one at venerable Public Affairs publisher Peter Osnos, with whom Bouton had once signed a book contract.
In Foul Ball, a book about a minor-league ballpark that Bouton decided to self-publish after a strong disagreement with Public Affairs, Bouton questions whether Osnos’ relationship with an investor clouded his judgment, and also wonders about how the publisher handled the situation after the author and house agreed to end their relationship.
Last year, Public Affairs’ editorial director Paul Golob bought the city-hall drama set in Pittsfield, Mass., in which the author leads a group that tries to save the historic Wahconah Park, the oldest minor-league stadium in the country, in the face of other interests. The book was to show how corporations and small-time bureaucrats conspire to sell out the people they purport to represent. Among those that opposed the renovation of Wahconah Park, Bouton argued, was
General Electric, which, instead of refurbishing the old park, supported building a new one to “place a band-aid on the tumor” that was the new site, which Bouton said is shown in city documents to be a toxic-waste dump.
Bouton inserted the passages, which he says came to about ten pages. He says he had no indication that Golob or anyone else at the publisher had a problem with them, until he had a meeting with Osnos, who very quickly disclosed his friendship with GE legal counsel Ben Heineman and told him that Heineman would soon be making an investment in Public Affairs. Shortly after, Bouton writes, Osnos told him that “‘My friendship to Ben Heineman is more important than any book. And Ben Heineman’s name WILL NOT GO IN THAT BOOK.'” Bouton says that Golob told him not long after that he had to remove nearly all of the GE passages.
Bouton writes that Golob said the decision to ask for the passage’s removal “had absolutely nothing to do with GE’s top lawyer becoming a partner in Public Affairs,” to which Bouton quips in the book, “Sure. And Jay Pomeroy just loves baseball,” referring to a GE employee featured in the story.
Bouton and Public Affairs agreed to part ways after it became clear the two could not agree on how to approach the GE issue. Bouton eventually was made an offer by Ballantine but turned it down, because of a “number of caveats” connected to rights. He decided to self-publish the book, and it will now be released in June under the colophon of Bulldog Publishing, which also published an edition of Ball Four. He will distribute Foul Ball through Midpoint. “I just wanted more control over everything,” says Bouton. “If I sold it somewhere, how do I know if the publisher will promote it, or sit on it because someone from GE placed a call to their lawyer?”
I loved Ball Four – I was about the right age at 13 or so to revel in the mixture of Major League insider/iconoclast. How can you not a love a book where the entire vocabulary of a main character consists of the epithets “shitfuck” and “fuckshit,” conjunctions, I believe, not meant to be taken literally.