Jim Bouton, ex-Yankees pitcher and ‘Ball Four’ author, dies

Ross Houston
July 14, 2019

Bouton and his wife, Paula Kurman, led a quiet life amid a large extended family in Great Barrington, and enjoyed supporting the local farmers market and fundraising for Fairview Hospital, the friend told The Eagle. He fought a brain disease linked to dementia and was in hospice care.

When "Ball Four" hit the bookstores in 1970 - it was edited by Shecter - Bouton became a big celebrity, but players and coaches were furious that he wrote about players' drinking habits and use of amphetamines, among other things that never had been exposed publicly by an insider. Bouton's revealing look at baseball off the field made for eye-opening and entertaining reading, but he paid a big price for the best-seller when former teammates and players and executives across baseball ostracized him for exposing their secrets. Finally, the ban was lifted last season when Bouton appeared at the Yankees Old-Timer's Day game, receiving a warm ovation. A year later, Mr. Bouton's record was 18-13 with a 3.02 ERA and he won a pair of World Series starts against the Cardinals. He worked on Ball Four in 1969 as he spent the season with the expansion Pilots and Houston Astros, his fastball replaced by a knuckleball as he tried to prolong his career.

New York Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton wearing his glove and holding a baseball.

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. Bouton finished his 10-year career with a record of 62-63 and an ERA of 3.57. Bouton told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.

Bouton was better known for his tell-all baseball book Ball Four. He and a former teammate developed Big League Chew, a bubble gum alternative to tobacco.

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.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 file photo, Former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton signs copies of the Associated Press book "New York Yankees 365", in New York.

Bouton pitched 10 years in the major leagues, including seven with the Yankees where he made one All-Star team and was a member of the 1962 World Series champions.

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