Former Yankees pitcher, controversial baseball author Jim Bouton dies after battle with dementia

Yahoo Sports
Jim Bouton (Getty)
Jim Bouton (Getty)

Former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton has died at 80 after a battle with dementia.

The New York Daily News first reported his death. His wife Paula Kurman confirmed the news to the Washington Post.

Bouton pitched 10 years in the major leagues, including seven with the Yankees where he made one All-Star team and was a member of the 1962 World Series champions.

Acclaimed, controversial author

He’s better known for his tell-all baseball book “Ball Four,” a controversial account of his 1969 season in which he wrote about the personal exploits of some of his former teammates like Yankees legend Mickey Mantle hitting a home run while hung over as well as the rampant use of amphetamines in the game.

"Everybody thought I was writing a regular sports book," Bouton told the L.A. Times in 1990. "They didn't realize I was writing about things like an argument between catcher Merritt Ranew and pitcher Fred Talbot in the bullpen about which part of the South was dumber."

Bouton’s baseball career

As a player, Bouton compiled a 62-63 record with a 3.57 ERA and 1.264 WHIP over 304 appearances. In his 1963 All-Star campaign, Bouton won 21 games while posting a 2.53 ERA with a 1.115 WHIP.

The release of “Ball Four” in 1970 was met with anger in baseball circles, but became widely acclaimed for the candid view it provided into the world of baseball.

Commish demanded Bouton renounce book

Then-MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn demanded when the book was published that Bouton renounce the work and vow to never write about baseball again. Bouton declined.

The Yankees blackballed him from baseball events for almost 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.

“Ball Four” became one of the best-selling sports books off all time with 5.5 million copies in print, according to The Post.

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