Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Review of "Home Games," by Bobbie Bouton and Nancy Marshall

 Review of

Home Games, by Bobbie Bouton and Nancy Marshall, ISBN 0312388462

Five out of five stars

Another tell-all by a Bouton

The book “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton, former major league pitcher, was a game changer in the area of books written about professional sports by people that played them. Before that revelation, when athletes and sportswriters wrote books about sports, they kept the sordid details out of the ink. Bouton destroyed that unwritten wall and from that point on, writers about sports were free to tell all, no matter how personal and unbecoming. Therefore, it is fitting that a book about the lives of the wives of professional athletes should be authored by the wife of Bouton.

 The format is a series of letters between Bobbie Bouton, the wife of Jim Bouton and Nancy Marshall, the wife of major league pitcher Mike Marshall. It spares nothing in the way of language and little in the way of detail regarding what big leaguers do when out of the sight of their wives. One very significant point is how low the pay was for players in the minor leagues and how their families struggled to make ends meet.

 There was also the stress of travel and moving. While a move up in the farm system was a positive career event, it generally meant a move, sometimes across the country, for the family. These women at first were the supportive wives that did whatever was necessary to make the best possible home life for their husbands. However, once their husbands were successful, they discovered that their efforts were not rewarded. Furthermore, when both men suffered their inevitable falls from their peak performance, they tended to blame their wives for their professional demise.

 This is a depressing book, pulling away the magic curtain of what it is like to be the spouse of a celebrity. Mostly they toiled in the shadows while their men experienced their fleeting fame and took them for granted in all respects. Both women eventually divorced their husbands and made an independent life. The seedy details of those divorces are also included.

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