Jim Bouton dies at 80.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Jim Bouton, who was a top pitcher for the Yankees before arm trouble took away his fastball, and who later wrote the controversial book Ball Four, passed away at the age of 80.

Bouton was with the Yankees from 1962-1968, the Seattle Pilots 1969, and Houston Astros 1969-1970. After being out of baseball for years, he made a comeback in 1978 at the age of 39, starting five games for the Braves that year.

Bouton got a WS championship ring in 1962, going 7-7, 3.99 in 16 starts and 20 relief appearances (ERA+ 95). He didn’t appear in the World Series.

In 1963, he was a All-Star for the only time in his career, and finished 16th in MVP voting by going 21-7, 2.53 (ERA+ 140) in 30 starts and 10 relief appearances.

Bouton, famous for an over the top delivery that often knocked his cap off his head, started Game 3 of the 1963 WS and lost a 1-0 heartbreaker, pitching seven innings.

In 1964, he went 18-13, 3.02 (ERA+ 120). He led the AL with 37 starts (he also had one relief appearance) and won both Games 3 and 6 of the 1964 WS, going 2-0, 1.56 in 17 1/3 IP.

In his three WS starts, he was 2-1, 1.48.

Arm trouble came in 1965. Biceps problems. The collapse of the Yankees’ dynasty coincided with Bouton going 4-15, 4.82 (ERA+ 71).

He pitched decently but had no luck in 1966, going 3-8 despite a fine 2.69 ERA.

More arm trouble led to him being used sparingly as a reliever in 1967 and 1968 for the Yanks. The arm trouble led to Bouton developing a knuckle ball.

He got into 73 games with the Pilots and Astros in 1969, and 29 with Houston in 1970.

But in 1970, his book Ball Four came out and while a bestseller, it ticked off the baseball establishment. The code of the clubhouse (What goes on here, stays here) was violated and Bouton became a pariah. The Yanks didn’t invite him back to Old-Timers Day until 1998. He became an outcast. To many, his name was dirt.

In the 1970s, Bouton became a sportscaster, created Big League Chew, the shredded bubble gum, and even starred in a short lived TV Show based on his book. He had that short comeback with the Braves in 1978.

An addendum to the book, detailing his comeback, was also released.

In his MLB career, Bouton was 62-63, ERA 3.57, ERA+ 99.

He hit .101 with no HR, 21 RBI.

 

 

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