Sports

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

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

Jim Bouton, the former Yankees pitcher and tell-all author, has died at the age of 80, according to his family.

Bouton later became a NY sportscaster before suffering two strokes in 2012.

He's better known for his tell-all baseball book "Ball Four", a controversial account of his 1969 season in which he wrote about the personal exploits of some of his former teammates like Yankees legend Mickey Mantle hitting a home run while hung over as well as the rampant use of amphetamines in the game.

Some former teammates never forget Bouton for sharing stories that mostly were kept secret from the public.

Bouton was born in Newark in 1939 and he spent most of his childhood living in Rochelle Park, N.J., until his family moved to Ridgewood, N.J., when he was 13 and then Chicago Heights, Ill., when he was 15.

The New York Daily News first reported his death.

Bouton was also one of the creators of Big League Chew bubble gum and worked as a sportscaster for both Channel 2 and Channel 7 in NY. He pitched at Western Michigan University before signing with the Yankees in 1958.

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Bouton had great success as a pitcher with the New York Yankees in the early 1960s, winning 20 games and two World Series contests.

Mr. Bouton injured his right arm in 1965, going 4-15 that season, and saw limited action the next three seasons with NY. Due to his arm problems, Bouton threw a knuckleball in the second half of his career, much of it as a reliever.

Ball Four earned critical acclaim and is frequently noted as one of the best and most influential pieces of sports literature since its release. Major League Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn was very upset, too, and attempted to force Bouton to sign a letter stating "Ball Four" was fiction.

But the book caused most of his old teammates to ostracize him, and he was blackballed from Yankees events for almost 50 years, until the team made amends last season by inviting Mr. Bouton to the annual Old-Timers Day event, where he was given an emotional standing ovation.

Mr. Bouton's career ended after the 1970 season with the Astros, though he returned for a five-game cameo with the Braves in 1978, going 1-3 at age 39.

While Bouton was blacklisted, he wrote a sequel to "Ball Four" that was titled, "I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally".


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