Jim Bouton, former pitcher, WMU alum, author, dies at 80

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FORMER Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton has reportedly died aged 80.

The New York Daily News first reported his death.

Nicknamed Bulldog, Bouton also pitched for Houston in 1970.

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.

In the early part of his career, Bouton was a hard-throwing force for the Yankees - becoming an All-Star, a 20-game victor and a World Series starter for NY in 1963. He first reached the big leagues in 1962 as a 23-year-old and had a decent rookie season, going 7-7 with 3.99 ERA over 36 games, 16 as a starter.

Bouton, who finished his career with a 62-63 record and a 3.57 earned-run average, enjoyed his best season in 1963, when he won 21 games and was an All-Star. Bouton was the winning pitcher in his two starts, Game 3 and Game 6.

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.

Mr. Bouton also was a television sportscaster in New York City; wrote other books; appeared in the 1973 movie The Long Goodbye, directed by Robert Altman, and starred in a 1976 CBS sitcom based on Ball Four that lasted only five episodes. He took some notes that season, then kept a diary throughout the 1969 season by jotting down daily happenings and also talking into a tape recorder.

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. Major League Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn was very upset, too, and attempted to force Bouton to sign a letter stating "Ball Four" was fiction.

"Everybody thought I was writing a regular sports book, "Bouton told the L.A. Times in 1990".

But the book caused most of his old teammates to ostracize him, and he was blackballed from Yankees events for almost 50 years, until the team made amends last season by inviting Mr. Bouton to the annual Old-Timers Day event, where he was given an emotional standing ovation. He and a former teammate developed Big League Chew, a bubble gum alternative to tobacco.

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