Jim Bouton All-Star Yankee Pitcher, Author, Entrepreneur

On his high school junior varsity baseball team his nickname was “Warm Up Bouton” because all he ever did was warm up, he never got into games. The goal of becoming a major league pitcher was considered “unrealistic,” so he did his Career Week essay on becoming a forest ranger.

People are still having trouble predicting what Jim Bouton will do next.

In 1963 he won 21 games for the New York Yankees and made the all-star team. In 1964 he won 18 games and beat the Cardinals twice in the World Series.

In 1970 he wrote Ball Four, the funny, irreverent, all-time bestseller which revealed baseball players as human beings. Ball Four was recently selected by the New York Public Library as one of the “Best Books of the Century.”

In 1970 Bouton retired from baseball and became a TV sportscaster in New York where he helped WABC-TV climb to 1st place in the ratings. During the 70’s he also wrote a sequel to Ball Four entitled I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally, won good reviews in a movie called The Long Goodbye, and wrote and acted in a network situation comedy based on his book.

In 1978 Bouton made a comeback to baseball with the Atlanta Braves. Gambling his television career for a dream, Bouton rode hot buses and ate cold hamburgers for two years in the minor leagues before he was called up to the Atlanta Braves. When the 39 year old knuckleballer beat the San Francisco Giants 4 -1, it was his first major league win in eight years.

During his comeback Bouton invented Big League Chew, shredded bubble gum in a pouch, for ballplayers who want to look right without getting sick. Big League Chew, which has replaced chewing tobacco at many high schools and colleges, is one of the most popular bubble gums on the market.

In 1996 Bouton received the highest honor of his career when he was featured in The Sports 100, “The One Hundred Most Important People in American Sports History,” published by Macmillan. This book, which covers 150 years, contains only 21 people from the world of baseball.

Bouton, whose first novel, Strike Zone, just came out in paperback, is a frequent guest on radio and television. In his spare time, he builds stone walls and pitches semi-pro baseball near his home in Massachusetts.

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