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Jim Bouton, former Yankees pitcher and 'Ball Four' author, dies at 80

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 5 days ago North Jersey Record

Former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, who authored the book "Ball Four," has died at the age of 80 at his home in the Berkshires in Massachusetts.

His wife, Paula Kurman, told The New York Times Bouton died after a long struggle with vascular dementia.

Bouton, who was born in Newark and grew up in Rochelle Park and Ridgewood, pitched in New York from 1962-68, making the All-Star team in 1963 when he went 21-7 with a 2.53 ERA. He later pitched for the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros before retiring in 1970. 

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In 1978, Bouton made a brief comeback with the Atlanta Braves at the age of 39, making five starts. Bouton, who later lived in Teaneck, also continued to pitch in Bergen County's Met League for many years in his retirement.

Jim Bouton in 1967. © ASSOCIATED PRESS Jim Bouton in 1967.

Bouton's acclaimed and criticized book "Ball Four" was published in June 1970.

The best-seller cast several teammates, including Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, in an unfavorable light. The revelations including that Mantle sometimes played with a hangover and that Ford scuffed the ball are tame by today's standards.

Nonetheless, the book made Bouton an outcast in the Bronx. It was not until 1998 that he was finally invited back to Yankee Stadium for Old-Timers' Day.

Former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton signs copies of his new book, "Ball Four: The Final Pitch" November 27, 2000 at a Waldenbooks store in Schaumburg, IL. "Ball Four: The Final Pitch" is a new and final edition of his controversial 1970 book titled "Ball Four" that has sold more than five million copies worldwide. © Tim Boyle, Getty Images Former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton signs copies of his new book, "Ball Four: The Final Pitch" November 27, 2000 at a Waldenbooks store in Schaumburg, IL. "Ball Four: The Final Pitch" is a new and final edition of his controversial 1970 book titled "Ball Four" that has sold more than five million copies worldwide.

You know, there's no point holding a grudge for life," George Steinbrenner said at the time. Steinbrenner ended Bouton's banishment after seeing a letter written by Bouton's son asking the Yankees owner to bring his dad back to the stadium.

Bouton cried when he first heard the Yankees had invited him to the Bronx.

Bouton had some closure with Mantle before his death in 1996. He sent a letter to Mantle's Manhattan restaurant, expressing his condolences when Mantle's son died. Bouton said Mantle called him days later and told him, "I never had a problem with you. I'm not the reason they haven't invited you back to the Stadium."

This article originally appeared on North Jersey Record: Jim Bouton, former Yankees pitcher and 'Ball Four' author, dies at 80

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