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

Jim Bouton Yankees pitcher and author of tell-all book ‘Ball Four,’ dies at 80

Bouton, 80, died Wednesday at his home after "a valiant struggle with vascular dementia", the friend said.

In his 1969 season with the Pilots - the team's only one before moving to Milwaukee and renaming itself the Brewers - Mr. Bouton began consciously collecting old and new anecdotes that became the best-selling book.

A Newark native who was raised in Bergen County, Bouton is perhaps best known for his 1970 memoir "Ball Four", in which he took readers inside the Pilots' only season and also revealed indiscretions - on the field and off - that alienated him, for a time, from his former Yankees teammates, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford among them.

Bouton's professional baseball career spanned 10 years, including seven seasons with the New York Yankees.

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

In his rookie season in 1962, he had a standout performance, making part of the winning team.

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New York Times sports writer Tyler Kepner wrote, "Nobody ever captured the humor and humanity of ballplayers the way Bouton did in 'Ball Four'".

Throwing so hard that his cap often flew off his head, Bouton was 21-8 with six shutouts in 1963 - his second season in the majors and his only year as an All-Star - and went 18-13 with four more shutouts in 1964.

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

"Ball Four" eventually led to Bouton being blacklisted by Major League clubs from 1970 until he was signed by the Chicago White Sox in April 1977, but he didn't get back to the big leagues that season, as he was released in May of that season after going 0-6 with a 5.26 ERA over 10 Double-A outings.

Bouton was also one of the creators of Big League Chew bubble gum and worked as a sportscaster for both Channel 2 and Channel 7 in NY. He pitched at Western Michigan University before signing with the Yankees in 1958. He and a former teammate developed Big League Chew, a bubble gum alternative to tobacco.

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