Former MLB pitcher and author Jim Bouton died Wednesday following a fight with a brain disease linked to dementia. He was 80 years old.
According to friends of the family, Bouton died after several weeks of hospice care at his home in Massachusetts, where he lived with his wife.
Bouton’s professional baseball career spanned 10 years, including seven seasons with the New York Yankees. He finished his career with a record of 62-63 with a 3.57 ERA. In the early part of his career, Bouton was a hard-throwing force for the Yankees — becoming an All-Star, a 20-game winner and a World Series starter for New York in 1963.
But the most notable part of Bouton’s legacy might be his work in sports literature.
Following his decade in pro baseball, Bouton penned a juicy tell-all titled Ball Four that pulled back the curtain and revealed the inner workings of a life inside a major-league clubhouse. The book was a diary of Bouton’s 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots, during which he was an aging knuckleballer, and included a wide array of quotes and anecdotes that openly discussed the daily life of what it was like to play in the big leagues.
Ball Four earned critical acclaim and is frequently noted as one of the best and most influential pieces of sports literature since its release. However, the memories and thoughts shared with the pages generated controversy and the book wasn’t received well by many of Bouton’s former teammates and coaches for its raw and accurate depiction of life behind the scenes in professional sports.
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. After a 28-year exile from the club, he was welcomed back into the team’s good graces.
Bouton also attended the Old-Timers Day game in 2018 and was given a standing ovation in front of 54 guests, including six of his grandchildren who had never before seen their grandfather in his Yankees pinstripes.