Ball Four is a 1976 American situation comedy that aired on CBS in 1976. The series is inspired by the 1970 book of the same name by Jim Bouton. Bouton co-created the show with humorist and television critic Marvin Kitman and sportswriter Vic Ziegel. Bouton also starred in the series.
Ball Four followed the Washington Americans, a fictitious minor league baseball team, dealing with the fallout from a series of Sports Illustrated articles written by Americans player Jim Barton. Like the book, the series covered controversial subjects including womanizing players, drug use, homosexuality in sports and religion. The series included a gay rookie ballplayer, one of the earliest regular gay characters on television. The trio began developing the series in 1975, looking to other series like M*A*S*H and All in the Family as models. CBS expressed interest and the creative team developed a script. CBS shot the pilot episode and ultimately bought the series.
Ball Four aired at 8:30 PM Eastern time, which was during the Family Viewing Hour, an FCC-mandated hour of early evening "family-friendly" broadcasting. Consequently the writers had some trouble with the network's Standards and Practices in their attempt to portray realistic locker room scenes, especially the language used by the players. Pseudo-profanity such as "bullpimp" was disallowed, while "horse-crock" and "bullhorse" were approved.
No videos, backdrops or posters have been added to Ball Four.