Former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, whose irreverent, raunchy baseball memoir, 'Ball Four, ' attracted both hostility and acclaim, died on Wednesday at his home in MA at the age of 80.
The book was a hit right away - the first edition of 5,000 sold out very quickly - and eventually sold millions.
Bouton also pitched with the Atlanta Braves.
Bouton was born in Newark in 1939 and he spent most of his childhood living in Rochelle Park, N.J., until his family moved to Ridgewood, N.J., when he was 13 and then Chicago Heights, Ill., when he was 15. He was an all-star once, in 1963 when he was 21-7 with NY. He made it to the majors in 1962, going 7-7, but didn't appear in the Yankees' World Series victory over the San Francisco Giants.
Bouton won a pair of World Series games in 1964 when the Yankees lost to the Cardinals in seven games.
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Bouton injured his right arm in 1965, going 4-15 that season, and saw limited action the next three seasons with NY. Due to his arm problems, Bouton threw a knuckleball in the second half of his career, much of it as a reliever.
But while the book, co-written with Leonard Shecter of the New York Post, was a critical hit, the amusing tales angered the baseball establishment and many former teammates. Major League Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn was very upset, too, and attempted to force Bouton to sign a letter stating "Ball Four" was fiction. He was 80 years old. He started five September games that season, going 1-3.
The pitcher was essentially black-listed from Yankees alumni events until 1998, when the team invited him to participate in their annual Old-Timers Day game following the death of his daughter.
But his book Ball Four (written with New York Post sportswriter Leonard Shecter) broke some of the sporting world's biggest taboos, revealing behind-the-scenes carousing by legends like Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Whitey Ford, and the widespread use of amphetamines by ballplayers.
Bouton followed up his first book with I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally, another tell-all.
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