the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, Former Yankees All-Star pitcher and Ridgewood resident Jim Bouton has died at 80 years old.
Bouton was a 20-game winner, won two World Series games, spent 10 years in the big leagues, but made a bigger impact with a pen in his hand than a baseball.
Bouton was the author of Ball Four, an unvarnished and controversial book that took readers inside of MLB clubhouses. The book is now considered a classic work in not only sportswriting, but also nonfiction in general.
In “Ball Four,” Bouton exposed in great detail the carousing of Yankees legend Mickey Mantle, the widespread use of stimulants (known as “greenies”) in Major League locket rooms, and the spectacularly foul mouth of Seattle Pilots manager Joe Schultz.
“Amphetamines improved my performance about five percent,” Bouton once observed. “Unfortunately, in my case that wasn’t enough.”
The book caused most of his old teammates to ostracize him, and he was blackballed from Yankees events for nearly 30 years until the team in 1998 invited Bouton to the annual Old-Timers Day event.
Across his 10-year pro career, posted a mediocre lifetime record of 62-63, with an ERA of 3.57.
But for two seasons, on the last of the great 1960s Yankees teams of Mantle, Maris, Berra and Ford, Bouton emerged as a top-flight pitcher.
In 1963, he went 21-7 with six shutouts and lost a 1-0 World Series decision to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Don Drysdale. A year later, Bouton’s record was 18-13 with a 3.02 ERA and he won a pair of World Series starts against the St. Louis Cardinals.
And then he developed a sore arm in 1965 that derailed a promising career that started just three years earlier.