Jim Bouton

Jim Bouton

Infobox MLB retired
name=Jim Bouton

birthdate=birth date and age|1939|3|8
Newark, New Jersey
debutdate=April 22
debutteam=New York Yankees
finaldate=September 29
finalteam=Atlanta Braves
stat1label=Win-Loss record
stat2label=Earned run average
* New York Yankees (by|1962-by|1968)
* Seattle Pilots (by|1969)
* Houston Astros (by|1969-by|1970)
* Atlanta Braves (by|1978)
* All-Star selection (1963)

James Alan Bouton (born March 8, 1939 in Newark, New Jersey, United States) is a former Major League Baseball player, and author of the controversial baseball book "Ball Four", which was a combination diary of his by|1969 season and memoir of his years with the New York Yankees, Seattle Pilots, and Houston Astros.


While attending high school in Chicago Heights, Illinois, Bouton was nicknamed "Warm-Up Bouton" because he never got to play in a game, serving much of his time as a benchwarmer. Jerry Colangelo, future owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns, was the ace of that Bloom High School staff. In summer leagues, Bouton did not throw particularly hard, but got batters out by mixing conventional stuff with the knuckleball that he had experimented with since childhood. Bouton played baseball while he attended Western Michigan University before he played professionally. He was a member of Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity at WMU.

Professional career

Bouton started his major league career in by|1962 with the Yankees, where his tenacity earned him the nickname "Bulldog." He also came to be known for his cap flying off his head at the completion of his delivery to the plate, as well as for his unusual use of the uniform number 56, a number usually assigned in spring training to players designated for the minor leagues (Bouton later explained that he had been assigned the number in 1962 when he was promoted to the Yankees, and wanted to keep it as a reminder of how close he had come to not making the ball club. He wore number 56 throughout his major league career). Bouton appeared in 36 games during the 1962 season, including 16 starts, and had a win-loss record of 7-7. While he did not play in the Yankees' 1962 World Series victory over the San Francisco Giants, he had been slated to start game 7. When the game was postponed a day because of rain, though, star Ralph Terry pitched instead. In Bouton's subsequent two seasons, he won 21 and 18 games and appeared in the 1963 All Star Game. He was 2-1 with a 1.48 ERA in World Series play.

Bouton's frequent use by the Yankees during these years (in 1964 he led the league with 37 starts) probably contributed to his subsequent arm troubles. In by|1965, an arm injury slowed his fastball and ended his status as a pitching phenomenon. Relegated mostly to bullpen duty, Bouton began to throw the knuckleball again, in an effort to lengthen his career. By by|1968, Bouton was a reliever for the minor league Seattle Angels.

In October 1968, he joined a committee of American sportsmen who traveled to the 1968 Summer Olympics, in Mexico City, to protest the involvement of apartheid South Africa. Around the same time, sportswriter Leonard Shecter—who had befriended Bouton during his time with the Yankees—approached him with the idea of writing and publishing a season-long diary. Bouton, who had taken some notes during the 1968 season after having a similar idea, readily agreed.

This was by no means the first baseball diary. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Brosnan had written two such books, about his 1959 and 1961 seasons, called "The Long Season" and "Pennant Race" respectively. Those books were much more open than the typical G-rated and ghost-written athletes' "diaries", a literary technique dating at least as far back as Christy Mathewson. Brosnan had also encountered some resistance. Joe Garagiola made a point in his own autobiography, "Baseball Is a Funny Game", to criticize Brosnan for writing them. But Bouton's effort would become much more widely known, debated and discussed.

"Ball Four"


Bouton retired midway through the by|1970 season after the Astros sent him down to the minor leagues. He immediately became a local sports anchor for New York station WABC-TV, as part of Eyewitness News; he later held the same job for WCBS-TV. Bouton also became an actor, playing the part of "Terry Lennox" in Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye" (1973), plus the lead role in the 1976 CBS television series "Ball Four", which was loosely adapted from the book. The TV show was canceled after a few episodes. By this time a cult audience saw "Ball Four" as a candid and comic portrayal of the ups and downs of baseball life. Bouton went on the college lecture circuit, delivering humorous talks on his experiences.

Bouton and his first wife, Bobbie (they divorced in the '80s) had two children together, Michael and Laurie (who was killed in a car accident at age 31 in 1997). They adopted a Korean orphan, Kyong Jo, who was renamed David at the boy's own request. Bouton's ex-wife teamed up with Nancy Marshall, the former wife of pitcher Mike Marshall, to write a tell-all book called "Home Games." Bouton is now married to Paula Kurman. [ [http://www.jimbouton.com/bio.html Jim Bouton - Biography ] ] .


The urge to play baseball would not leave him. He launched his comeback bid with the Class A Portland Mavericks in 1975, compiling a 5-1 record. He skipped the 1976 season to work on the TV series, but returned to the diamond in by|1977 when Bill Veeck signed him to a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. Bouton was winless for a White Sox farm club; a stint in the Mexican League and a return to Portland followed.

Bouton's quest to return to the majors might have ended there, but in by|1978 Ted Turner signed him to a contract with the Atlanta Braves. After a successful season with the Savannah Braves (AA), he was called up to join Atlanta's rotation in September, and compiled a 1-3 record in five starts. His winding return to the majors was chronicled in a book by sportswriter Terry Pluto, "The Greatest Summer." Bouton also detailed his comeback in a 10th anniversary re-release of his first book, titled "Ball Four Plus Ball Five", as well as adding a "Ball Six", updating the stories of the players in "Ball Four", for the 20th anniversary edition. All were included (in 2000) as "Ball Four: The Final Pitch", along with a new coda that detailed the death of his daughter and his reconciliation with the Yankees.

After his return to the majors, Bouton continued to pitch at the semi-pro level for a Bergen County, New Jersey team called the Teaneck Merchants. He also pitched for several other teams in the Metropolitan Baseball League in northern New Jersey.

Once his baseball career ended a second time, Bouton became one of the inventors of "Big League Chew," a shredded bubblegum designed to resemble chewing tobacco and sold in a tobacco-like pouch. He also co-authored "Strike Zone" (a baseball novel) and edited an anthology about managers, entitled "I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad". His most recent book is "Foul Ball" (published 2003) a non-fiction account of his (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to save Wahconah Park, a historic minor league baseball stadium in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Vindication and reconciliation

Although Bouton had never been officially declared "persona non grata" by the Yankees or any other team as a result of "Ball Four"'s revelations, he was excluded from most baseball-related functions, including Old-Timers' Games. It was rumored that Mickey Mantle himself had told the Yankees that he would never attend an Old-Timers' Game to which Bouton was invited (a charge Mantle subsequently denied, especially during a lengthy answering-machine message to Bouton after Mantle's son Billy had died of cancer in 1994 - Mantle was acknowledging a condolence card Bouton had sent). Things changed in June 1998, when Bouton's oldest son Michael wrote an eloquent Father's Day open letter to the Yankees which was published in the "New York Times". In it, Michael described the agony of his father following the August 1997 death of Michael's sister Laurie at age 31. By juxtaposing the story of Yogi Berra's self-imposed exile with that of his father's "de facto" banishment, Michael created a scenario where not only were the Yankees placed under public pressure to invite his father back, but the article paved the road to reconciliation between Yankee owner George Steinbrenner and Berra (that other journalists wrongly take credit for).

The Yankees had little choice but to accede, and in July 1998, Jim Bouton, sporting his familiar number 56, was received with thunderous applause at Yankee Stadium, both in appreciation for his candor in writing "Ball Four" and for weathering his personal tribulations since. Coincidentally, Bouton's first Old-Timers' Game would also be Joe DiMaggio's last: the Yankee Clipper would die seven months later.

Bouton has since become a regular fixture at Yankee Old-Timer's Games.


*"Ball Four" has been through numerous significantly revised editions, the most recent being "Ball Four: The Final Pitch", Bulldog Publishing. (April 2001), ISBN 0-9709117-0-X.
*"I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally"
*"I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad" -- edited and annotated by Bouton, compiled by Neil Offen.
*"Foul Ball", Bulldog Publishing. (June 2003), ISBN 0-9709117-1-8.
*"Strike Zone", Signet Books. (March 1995), ISBN 0-451-18334-7.


"You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time."

"This winter (1977) I'm working out every day, throwing against a wall. I'm 11-0 against the wall."


External links

* Jim Bouton's [http://www.jimbouton.com official homepage]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jim Bouton — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Jim Bouton, joueur américain de baseball, auteur de Ball Four (1970). Jim Bouton, livre pour enfants Catégorie : Homonymie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jim Bouton et les Terribles 13 — Jim Bouton Jim Bouton est un livre de fantasy pour enfants écrit par Michael Ende. Il comporte deux volumes : La Cité des dragons ( Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer dans la version allemande originale) (1960) et Jim Bouton et les… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jim Bouton (livre) — Jim Bouton est un livre de fantasy pour enfants écrit par Michael Ende. Il comporte deux volumes : La Cité des dragons ( Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer dans la version allemande originale) (1960) et Jim Bouton et les Terribles 13 (… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jim Bouton (baseball) — Jim Bouton lanceur Frappeur droitier  Lanceur droitier …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jim Brosnan — Infobox MLB retired bgcolor1=black bgcolor2=#c6011f textcolor1=white textcolor2=white name=Jim Brosnan position=Pitcher bats=Right throws=Right birthdate=birth date and age|1929|10|24 deathdate= debutdate=April 15 debutyear=1954 debutteam=Chicago …   Wikipedia

  • Jim Palmer — Infobox MLB retired name=Jim Palmer width=190px caption=Jim Palmer at Memorial Stadium (Baltimore) position=Pitcher bats=Right throws=Right birthdate=birth date and age|1945|10|15 city state|New York|New York deathdate= debutdate=April 17… …   Wikipedia

  • Jim Coates — James Alton Coates (born August 4, 1932 in Farnham, Virginia) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher.Infobox MLB retired bgcolor1=#1c2841 bgcolor2=#1c2841 textcolor1=white textcolor2=white name=Jim Coates position=Pitcher bats=Right… …   Wikipedia

  • Jim Gosger — James Charles Gosger (born November 6, 1942 in Port Huron, Michigan) is a former utility outfielder in Major League Baseball who played for six different teams between 1963 and 1974. Listed at 5 11 , 185 lb., he batted and threw left handed.… …   Wikipedia

  • Big Jim (poupée) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Big Jim. Big Jim est une série de poupée pour garçon, produit par Mattel entre 1972 et 1986. Les jouets Big Jim étaient prévus pour concurrencer le G.I. Joe de Hasbro. Vendus à l origine sur le marché américain,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • La Cité des dragons — Jim Bouton Jim Bouton est un livre de fantasy pour enfants écrit par Michael Ende. Il comporte deux volumes : La Cité des dragons ( Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer dans la version allemande originale) (1960) et Jim Bouton et les… …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.