"Ball Four" author Bouton dies at age 80

Jim Bouton Dies: ‘Ball Four’ Author Who Broke Sports Taboos Was 80

A memorial service for Jim Bouton, the former New York Yankees pitching star and author, will be announced in the coming weeks, according to a close family friend.

He later became a NY sportscaster, but suffered two strokes in 2012.

Jim Bouton, the New York Yankees pitcher who shocked the conservative baseball world with the tell-all book "Ball Four", has died, Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

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

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Bouton was raised in New Jersey and the Chicago area.

His favorite baseball team as a kid was the New York Giants. But for two seasons, on the last of the great 1960s Yankees teams of Mantle, Maris, Berra and Ford, he emerged as a top-flight pitcher. He first reached the big leagues in 1962 as a 23-year-old and had a decent rookie season, going 7-7 with 3.99 ERA over 36 games, 16 as a starter.

In the early part of his career, Bouton was a hard-throwing force for the Yankees - becoming an All-Star, a 20-game victor and a World Series starter for NY in 1963. In 1963, he went 21-7 with six shutouts and lost a 1-0 World Series decision to the Los Angeles Dodgers' Don Drysdale.

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

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

FILE - This 1967 file photo shows New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton.

A sportswriter approached him and asked him to write a diary during his 1969 season, which he agreed to.

When released, "Ball Four" was harshly criticized within the game, especially by baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

Published in 1970, "Ball Four" detailed Yankees great Mickey Mantle's carousing and the use of stimulants in the major leagues.

He was not invited back to Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium until 1998, when owner George Steinbrenner extended an olive branch.

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.

"Everybody thought I was writing a regular sports book, "Bouton told the L.A. Times in 1990".

After he retired, Bouton took up broadcasting and helped invent "Big League Chew", a bubble-gum product that resembles chewing tobacco and is packaged in a tobacco-like pouch.

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