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THUR 3/4

After several years in the broadcast booth, former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton returns to the printed word with Foul Ball: My Life and Hard Times Trying to Save an Old Ballpark, a self-published book about his struggles to save a historic minor-league ballpark in New England. Bouton's first book, the seminal Ball Four, is a gonzo seasonal diary generally recognized as one of the finest sporting screeds ever published. While Foul Ball's central riff -- building new, cookie-cutter stadiums with taxpayer money is idiotic -- is nowhere near as groundbreaking as Ball Four's forbidden peek into the locker room, there's nary a dull sentence to be found. And Bouton's ability to transport readers to the creaky bleachers of Wahconah Park and leave the taste of mustard in their mouths is unparalleled.

A true man of the people, Bouton will conduct a free reading at 7 p.m. at the Daniel Boone branch of the St. Louis County Library (300 Clarkson Road, 636-227-9630). For more information, contact sponsor Left Bank Books at 314-367-6731 or visit www.left-bank.com. -- Mike Seely

Hoop Oasis

For basketball diehards, St. Louis can be a bit of a desert. No pro team, and just one Division I men's program -- the Billikens of Saint Louis University, a decent, not-quite-bubble-material team in a decent, mid-major conference.

The upcoming Missouri Valley Conference championship, therefore, is like a big ol' bucket of cool, delish water from which to drink -- and the Southern Illinois University Salukis are the thirst quenchers of the bunch. Having already clinched the MVC's regular-season title, standouts Darren Brooks and LaMar Owen can be expected to unfurl their crowd-favorite moves, particularly against archrivals Creighton and Southwest Missouri State, two teams that know a thing or two themselves about snagging an invite to the NCAA championships.

"Arch Madness" hits the Savvis Center (1401 Clark Street, 314-241-1888) Friday, March 5, through Monday, March 8. Admission to all nine tournament games costs $60 or $80; single-game tickets are $16 and $25. -- Rose Martelli

Creatures of the Night
Queeny after dark

FRI 3/5

Tired of the usual Friday-night pizza/beer/Spice Channel routine? Head to Queeny Park (1731 Mason Road, 636-391-3474) at 7:30 p.m. for the unique opportunity to enjoy the expansive park after dark. It's a whole different world by the light of the moon. Depending on your mood, it can be a Wordsworthian commune with nature or a Blair Witch-type excursion into the crannies of your imagination. A park naturalist will lead you through the nocturne, but what if he loses the map? What about the map, Mike? Admission is $3, and advance registration is recommended. They need an accurate body count, if you know what we mean... -- Paul Friswold

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