Jim Bouton (age 84)

Birthday
March 8, 1939
Birthplace
Newark, New Jersey
Citizenship
United States

[Jim Bouton] Introduction

James Alan Bouton (March 8, 1939 – July 10, 2019) was a professional baseball player with an impressive career that spanned Major League Baseball (MLB) teams such as the New York Yankees, Seattle Pilots, Houston Astros, and Atlanta Braves between 1962 and 1978. While attending Western Michigan University, Bouton signed his first professional contract with the Yankees and went on to become a World Series Champion (1962) and an All-Star (1963). In addition to his successes on the field, Bouton also excelled off the field, writing the best-selling novel Ball Four (1970), acting, sports-casting, and even being one of the creators of Big League Chew. Towards the end of his career, Bouton became known for throwing the knuckleball.

[Jim Bouton] Amateur and college career

Jim Bouton was born in Newark, New Jersey to Gertrude and George Hempstead Bouton, an executive. Growing up a fan of the New York Giants, he lived in Rochelle Park, New Jersey until he was 13, before relocating with his family to Ridgewood and then Homewood, Illinois. He attended Bloom High School, where he played for the baseball team, and earned the nickname "Warm-Up Bouton" due to his lack of game time compared to Jerry Colangelo, who later became the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns. Keeping with his budding interest in baseball, Bouton received a scholarship to Western Michigan University, where he pitched for the Broncos baseball team. Scouts soon began to take notice of him and he was eventually signed by the Yankees for $30,000.

[Jim Bouton] Professional career

His induction was in recognition of Bouton's importance to baseball history, both for his performances as a player and his writings about the game.

Jim Bouton signed with the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1959. After playing in minor league baseball, Bouton started his major league career in 1962 with the Yankees, where his tenacity earned him the nickname "Bulldog". He had developed a formidable fastball, which, combined with his number 56 uniform and cap flying off his head at the completion of his delivery to the plate, only added to his mystique. He appeared in 36 games (16 starts) during the 1962 season, going 7–7 with two saves and a 3.99 ERA. He was selected for the 1963 All-Star Game and won both his starts in the 1964 World Series for the Yankees, earning him a spot on the World Series mound.

However, Bouton's frequent use by the Yankees probably contributed to his subsequent arm troubles in 1965. He was relegated mostly to bullpen duty and began to throw the knuckleball again, in an effort to lengthen his career. Being sold to the Seattle Pilots and the Houston Astros, he was traded back to the Yankees in 1968, where he was informally blacklisted from baseball. It was during this time that sportswriter Leonard Shecter approached him with the idea of writing a season-long diary, which would become the infamous book Ball Four.

This book was a frank, insider's look at professional sports teams and the off-the-field side of baseball life, discussing petty jealousies, obscene jokes, and even routine drug use, which all resulted in Bouton being blacklisted and unpopular with many players, coaches, and officials of other teams. He went on to write a sequel, I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally, and eventually updated the original book as Ball Four: The Final Pitch.

By the mid-1970s, Bouton had become a cult figure, and became one of the inventors of the chewing gum "Big League Chew". He also wrote a baseball novel, Strike Zone, and an anthology about managers, I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad. Bouton eventually made a return to the majors when Ted Turner signed him to the Atlanta Braves in 1978, and his return was then chronicled in the book The Greatest Summer.

Despite his persona non grata status, Bouton was invited back to Yankee Stadium on Father's Day 1998 for their Old Timers Game, due to a letter written by his son Michael, which was published in The New York Times. Bouton was inducted as a part of the Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals in 2001, and his importance to baseball history was acknowledged.

Jim Bouton signed with the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1959 and started his major league career in 1962, becoming known for his powerful fastball, number 56 uniform, and cap flying off his head at the completion of his delivery to the plate. By 1965, however, an arm injury slowed his fastball and ended his status as a pitching phenomenon, shifting him into bullpen duty. This prompted sportswriter Leonard Shecter to suggest writing a season-long diary, resulting in the famous book Ball Four.

The book was a frank look at the off-the-field side of baseball life, including details of petty jealousies, obscene jokes, and routine drug use. The revelations resulted in Bouton being informally blacklisted from the game, and he went on to write a sequel, I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally. By the mid-1970s, Ball Four had become a cult classic and he became one of the inventors of the chewing gum "Big League Chew".

He made a return to the majors in 1978 when Ted Turner signed him to the Atlanta Braves, and this return was chronicled in the book The Greatest Summer. Despite his persona non grata status, Bouton was invited back to Yankee Stadium on Father's Day 1998 for their Old Timers Game, due to a letter written by his son Michael, which was published in The New York Times. Bouton was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals in 2001, and his importance to baseball history was acknowledged.

More Details

 Occupation

  • Journalist

 Official Website

  • http://www.jimbouton.com

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