Former Yankees pitcher and author of the groundbreaking book Ball Four Jim Bouton passed away on Wednesday at the age of 80 after a fight with a brain disease reportedly attributed to dementia.
Bouton pitched for the Yankees in parts of eight seasons from 1962-1969, making 197 appearances (131 starts) from 1962-1968. He went 55-51 with a 3.36 ERA (3.82 FIP), earning an All-Star selection along the way in 1963 despite not making his first start until May 12. He shined brightest during the World Series, making three starts between the 1963 and 1964 Fall Classics. He went 2-1 with a 1.48 ERA on the game’s biggest stage.
Bouton’s postseason success helped the Yankees win three pennants, but his most recognizable contribution to baseball came in 1970, when Ball Four was published. The tell-all story of Bouton’s 1969 season shined a light inside a Major League Baseball clubhouse, including stories of Mickey Mantle battling hangovers and having an assistant handle some of his autograph duties, causing a number of fake Mantle autographs to go into circulation.
Bouton was cast out by the Yankee franchise—and baseball as a whole—for years due to what Ball Four revealed, but the nearby Newark native was eventually welcomed back. He was honored at last year’s Old-Timers Day and received one of the loudest ovations of the day.
Our thoughts are with the Bouton family today, as well as his many fans across baseball.