Tuesday, April 02, 2013

[385] ‘Ball Four’ author Jim Bouton to headline MTSU conference on April 5

FOR RELEASE: April 1, 2013
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081, gina.logue@mtsu.edu

MURFREESBORO — Jim Bouton, whose 1970 book “Ball Four” ripped the horsehide cover off Major League Baseball, will be the luncheon speaker at MTSU’s Baseball in Literature and Culture Conference.

The 18th annual gathering of presenters who examine baseball from a scholarly perspective is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Friday, April 5, at various locations in MTSU’s James Union Building.

Bouton, a former pitcher with the New York Yankees, the now-defunct Seattle Pilots and the Houston Astros, is slated to speak at 12:45 p.m. in the James Union Building’s Tennessee Room with a question-and-answer session to follow. After the Q-and-A, Bouton will sign books in the lobby.

In a 2002 poll by “Sports Illustrated” magazine, “Ball Four” was identified as the third most important sports book of all time. Bouton’s account of his experiences with the Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers) and Astros during the 1969 season was a no-holds-barred account of life in the majors.

“Indeed, the success of ‘Ball Four’ has opened the doors for more athletes to delve into the ‘tell all’ culture offered to us 24-7 by sports networks and Internet sites,” said Dr. Ron Kates, a professor of English at MTSU and co-coordinator of the conference with Dr. Warren Tormey.

When the book was first released, Bouton was vilified for destroying notions of baseball players as pure, wholesome role models raised to iconic status by a press corps willing to overlook the athletes’ infidelities, substance abuse and other shortcomings.

Dr. Andrew Hazucha will deliver the keynote address at 8:30 a.m. in the Tennessee Room. Hazucha’s topic will be “A Jim Bouton Retrospective: Zen and the Politics of the Knuckleball.”

Hazucha is a professor of English and chair of the arts and humanities division at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. He is co-editor, along with Gerald C. Wood, of “Northsiders: Essays on the History and Culture of the Chicago Cubs.”

Subjects to be addressed by presenters at the conference include “Negro League Baseball in Verse;” “Why I Want the Cubs to Win the World Series;” “Jocks, Herbs and the 1936 Yankees;” and “Facing Reality (TV): Pete Rose’s Biggest Obstacle to the Hall is Himself.”

The Baseball in Literature and Culture Conference was held annually at Indiana State University from 1995 until 2005 and has been held at MTSU since 2006.

“Since the conference started 18 years ago, the baseball-literature-and-culture genre has blossomed, in the process establishing footholds in established canon structures,” Kates said. “Over the past eight years, our conference has been an interdisciplinary, worldwide platform from which attendees can pursue scholarly projects.”

Public admission to the conference is free. However, a $15 fee will be charged for those wanting to eat lunch. For more information, contact Kates at 615-898-2595 or ron.kates@mtsu.edu or Connie Huddleston at 615-494-6728 or connie.huddleston@mtsu.edu.



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