JIM BOUTON Biography - Famous Sports men and women


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Name: Jim Bouton                                                                       
Born: March 8, 1939                                                                     
James Alan Bouton (born March 8, 1939 in Newark, New Jersey, United States) is a       
former Major League Baseball player, and author of the controversial baseball           
book Ball Four, which was a combination diary of his 1969 season and memoir of         
his years with the New York Yankees, Seattle Pilots, and Houston Astros.               
While attending high school in Chicago Heights, Illinois, Bouton was nicknamed "Warm-Up 
Bouton" because he never got to play in a game, serving much of his time as a           
benchwarmer. Jerry Colangelo, future owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and             
Phoenix Suns, was the ace of that Bloom High School staff. In summer leagues,           
Bouton did not throw particularly hard, but outed batters by mixing conventional       
stuff with the knuckleball that he had experimented with since childhood. Bouton       
played baseball while he attended Western Michigan University before he played         
professionally. He was a member of Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity at WMU.                   
Bouton started his major league career in 1962 with the Yankees, where his             
tenacity earned him the nickname "Bulldog." He also came to be known for his cap       
flying off his head at the completion of his delivery to the plate, as well as         
for his unusual use of the uniform number 56, a number usually assigned in             
spring training to players designated for the minor leagues (Bouton later               
explained that he had been assigned the number in 1962 when he was promoted to         
the Yankees, and wanted to keep it as a reminder of how close he had come to not       
making the ball club. He wore number 56 throughout his major league career). In         
his subsequent two seasons, the right-hander won 21 and 18 games and appeared in       
the 1963 All Star Game. He was 2-1 with a 1.48 ERA in World Series play.               
Bouton's frequent use by the Yankees during these years (in 1964 he led the             
league with 37 starts) probably contributed to his subsequent arm troubles. In         
1965, an arm injury slowed his fastball and ended his status as a pitching             
phenomenon. Relegated mostly to bullpen duty, Bouton began to throw the                 
knuckleball again, in an effort to lengthen his career. By 1968, Bouton was a           
reliever for the minor league Seattle Angels.                                           
In October 1968, he joined a committee of American sportsmen who traveled to the       
1968 Summer Olympics, in Mexico City, to protest the involvement of apartheid           
South Africa. Around the same time, sportswriter Leonard Shecter—who had             
befriended Bouton during his time with the Yankees—approached him with the idea       
of writing and publishing a season-long diary. Bouton, who had taken some notes         
during the 1968 season after having a similar idea, readily agreed.                     
This was by no means the first baseball diary. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim             
Brosnan had written two such books, about his 1959 and 1961 seasons, called The         
Long Season and Pennant Race respectively. Those books were much more open than         
the typical G-rated and ghost-written athletes' "diaries", a literary technique         
dating at least as far back as Christy Mathewson. Brosnan had also encountered         
some resistance. Joe Garagiola made a point in his own autobiography, Baseball         
Is a Funny Game, to criticize Brosnan for writing them. But Bouton's effort             
would become much more widely known, debated and discussed.