Jim Bouton, former MLB pitcher and 'Ball Four' author, dies at 80

Yankees pitcher and 'Ball Four’ author Jim Bouton dies at 80

The author of the groundbreaking hardball tell-all Ball Four died Wednesday (July 10, 2019) after suffering with a brain disease linked to dementia, friends of the family said.

Mr. Bouton, who made his major-league debut in 1962, threw so hard in his early years that his cap routinely flew off his head as he released the ball.

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.

According to the Daily News, the controversial smash hit was the "only sports book cited when the New York Public Library drew up its list of the best books of the 20th century". Bouton also had two strokes in 2012.He had been in a years-long battle with cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

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

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.

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By 1965, Bouton developed a sore arm, and he would go 4-15 with a 4.82 that season and 16-36 with a 4.18 ERA for the remainder of his career. 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.

The Yankees blackballed him from baseball events for nearly 50 years before relenting and inviting him to an old-timer's event last season where he received a standing ovation, according to The Daily News.

After he retired, Bouton took up broadcasting and helped invent "Big League Chew", a bubble-gum product that resembles chewing tobacco and is packaged in a tobacco-like pouch.

While pitching in college at Western Michigan, Bouton impressed Yankees scouts and he signed with team as an amateur free agent in 1959 for $30,000.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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