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

14 July 2019

Bouton had another good season in '64 when he was 18-13 working a career-high 271 1/3 innings over 38 games, 37 as a starter, for a Yankees club that again lost the World Series, this time to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

"Ball Four" ignited a controversy that stuck to Bouton, but the book landed on the New York Public Library's list of the best books of the 20th century. Published in June 1970, the best-seller was a controversial personal account of his 1969 season in which he exposed former teammate Mickey Mantle's personal exploits and the use of amphetamines in the game. He wasn't invited to the Yankees' Old-Timers' Day until 1998. He and Mantle had some closure before Mantle's death in 1996. Exactly five years later, August 15, 2012, Bouton suffered a stroke, robbing him of his ability to speak, read or write the way he used to.

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 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.

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

New York Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton wearing his glove and holding a baseball. He joined the Braves in 1978, at the age of 39 after developing a knuckle ball and after having been out of the majors since 1970.

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

Following his career, Bouton did a little acting, he was a NY sportscaster for a time, he was the inventor of "Big League Chew" - a shredded bubble gum that resembled chewing tobacco - plus he co-authored baseball novel "Strike Zone" and he wrote a fictional baseball ball that was titled "Foul Ball". He pitched in two World Series for the Yankees. He and a former teammate developed Big League Chew, a bubble gum alternative to tobacco.

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