Sport

Former Yankees Pitcher and 'Ball Four' Author Jim Bouton Dies at 80

Former Yankees Pitcher and 'Ball Four' Author Jim Bouton Dies at 80”

Former MLB pitcher and author Jim Bouton died Wednesday following a fight with a brain disease linked to dementia.

The book was a hit right away - the first edition of 5,000 sold out very quickly - and eventually sold millions.

Nicknamed Bulldog, Bouton was a hard thrower in his prime whose hat frequently would fly off his head during his delivery.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Bouton was raised in New Jersey and the Chicago area. He was an all-star once, in 1963 when he was 21-7 with NY.

While pitching in college at Western Michigan, Bouton impressed Yankees scouts and he signed with team as an amateur free agent in 1959 for $30,000.

Bouton had great success as a pitcher with the New York Yankees in the early 1960s, winning 20 games and two World Series contests. Bouton started Game 3 and was allowed one run over seven innings while being out-dueled by future Hall of Famer Don Drysdale in a 1-0 Dodgers victory at Dodger Stadum. Bouton went 21-7 with a 2.53 ERA in 1963, a performance that earned him a trip to the All-Star Game.

Bouton injured his right arm in 1965, going 4-15 that season, and saw limited action the next three seasons with NY.

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Arm problems derailed his career, and Bouton developed a knuckleball to hang on for a few more seasons.

But while the book, co-written with Leonard Shecter of the New York Post, was a critical hit, the amusing tales angered the baseball establishment and many former teammates.

When released, Ball Four was harshly criticized within the game, especially by baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. He joined the Braves in 1978, at the age of 39 after developing a knuckle ball and after having been out of the majors since 1970. He was 80 years old.

After years as an outcast in the Bronx, Bouton was invited to Old-Timer's Day in 1988.

"Ball Four", which came out in 1970, had a dramatic effect on baseball by revealing the late-night adventures of players like New York Yankees star Mickey Mantle and the use of illegal drugs.

Bouton followed up his first book with I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally, another tell-all.



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