Tag Archives: Bouton

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.




How do you know what tomorrow brings?

It’s interesting to see some people’s comments on Damon and Matsui. Now don’t get me wrong. I am going to miss both of them. Clutch. Very good players. Hard to replace.

But in reading between the lines, I get the assumption that people expect the same from them in 2010 as they did in 2009.

Which, maybe, they accomplish. One thing I did mention to friends was this: The 2009 Yankees were one of the oldest teams to win a WS. Think about it. The #3 starter (ages at WS time) was 37. Your closer just short of 40. A 35 year old SS. The oldest SS to win a WS since Pee Wee Reese in 1955. Third base? 34. Not to mention a 38 year old catcher, soon to be 36 LF and 35 year old DH. How long could superb production out of that group have continued?

Matsui got a one-year deal. If he duplicates .274-28-90, OPS+ 131 more power to him. What are the odds that he does not? He’ll be 36 next summer.

Damon was apparently looking for a two-year deal. What are the odds that, at 36, Damon cannot replicate .282-24-82 with 12/12 in SB and an OPS+ of 126?

What are the odds that both, in 2010, start a decline?

Branch Rickey always said that it is best to get rid of a player one year too early than one year too late.

I’ll miss JD and Matsui. But people should not naturally assume that 2010’s numbers will be the same as 2009’s. It is why I consider Posada the key to the 2010 season. At 38, 39 in August of 2010, how close can he come to his almost unprecedented numbers for a catcher that he put up this year? .285-22-81? OPS+ 133?

38 year old catchers aren’t supposed to do that.

Can Jeter, 35 now, 36 next summer, hit over .330 again? How much does Andy and Mo have left in their arms? 

People have to remember 1965. After winning their fifth straight pennant and falling to the Cardinals in a seven-game WS in 1964, the Yanks had a 36 year old catcher who fell off the face of the earth. Ellie Howard went from .313, 84 RBI and 3rd in the MVP vote to .233 and 45 RBI. How many in Feb. 1965 saw that kind of drop coming?

Mantle was just 33 but had a body that seemed much older. Could Matsui’s knees be going like Mantle’s were? Who knows. But in Feb. 1965, who saw Mickey’s numbers going from 1964 MVP runnerup at .303-35-111 to .255-19-46?

Who foresaw Maris at 30 getting an injury that would preclude him from ever hitting over 13 HR ever again?

Who foresaw a pitcher who won 39 games over the prior two years (Bouton) going 4-15? Bouton was just 26.

Who foresaw the 37 year old Whitey Ford starting out 1965 3-6, 5.30 on his way to 16-13, 3.24…then going just 4-9 after 1965?

Who foresaw Pepitone dropping from 100 RBI to 62? After all, he was just 24.

It kind of reminds me of Bernie. We all loved him and miss him. But eventually the numbers do go down. In Feb. of 2003, who would have thought the 34 year old would drop from .333-19-102, OPS+ 141 to .263-15-64, OPS+ 107 and miss some forty games?

There is more. The point is, We hope that what someone did in the past translates to the future. But you don’t know. You just don’t know.

I’ll miss JD and Matsui.

But to think they would have replicated 2009 in 2010….you just don’t know.

An anniversary and off-the-field news; Jeter’s souvenir

Beatles last live performance, 40 years ago
How time flies. The Beatles last live performance. On the roof, 40 years ago.

1/30 marks the 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ last live performance, documented in the movie Let It Be. How time flies. Some things, whether it’s this or some other anniversary, really make you wonder where the time has gone.

I saw via my cellphone internet some interesting things on ESPN.com while on break at work tonight.

First was that the Yankee front office may be thinking of having the manager & coaches sign confidentiality agreements. They aren’t sure that they could get away with it. They pretty much think that they couldn’t with the Players Association. It looks like they are tired of the tell-all books. What hath Jim Bouton wrought?

Did you know Bouton wasn’t the first to write a tell-all kind of baseball book? Jim Brosnan, a pitcher for the Reds, did so a good decade before Bouton, but didn’t go into the salacious detail that Bouton did in Ball Four. From Wikipedia:

The first of his [Brosnan’s] books was about his 1959 season, a season which found him being traded from St. Louis to Cincinnati around the halfway point, and was titled The Long Season. It garnered some degree of criticism by those who felt Brosnan had violated the “sanctity” of the clubhouse. In that way it anticipated, by ten years, the firestorm of opinion that would come in the wake of Jim Bouton’s book, Ball Four. However, Brosnan’s book focused more on feelings and less on the kind of salacious details that Bouton’s book would contain.

Speaking of salacious details, now it’s reported that ex-teammate Bobby Estalella (named in the Mitchell Report) is going to testify against Barry Bonds. This should be interesting. It’s apparent that the government really wants Bonds, and probably also Clemens. The feds also are supposed to have urine samples of Bonds that show that he did more than the “cream” and the “clear”—substances Bonds claimed not to know were steroids. The urine samples could prove the existence of other steroids in the body. Wonder how Barry would explain that away?

I do have to wonder though. Granted you want the law to run its course, and if Bonds or Clemens perjured themselves then they have to pay the price. But having federal agents raid the home of the mother-in-law of Bonds’ personal trainer? I really wonder…was that really necessary or worth it?

Mike Sweeney signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. Eric Hinske signed with the Pirates, and MLBTR says that Hinske’s signing basically means that the “Eye Chart,” Doug Mientkiewicz, needs to find a new home.

Bryan Hoch at Bombers Beat reports what I predicted on this blog back in September. I’m glad I nailed it. But then, I won’t take too much credit for nailing it. What did you think Jeter wanted from the old ballyard? I think that we all had a clue what Jeter wanted.

We knew it. Derek Jeter has finally admitted what souvenir he wanted from Yankee Stadium, and as expected, the Joe DiMaggio “I’d like to thank the good Lord” sign is in the Captain’s possession.