Notable Deaths ›

Jim Bouton (1939–2019), former Yankee pitcher wrote best-selling tell-all book “Ball Four”

Getty Images / Newsmakers / Tim Boyle

His book exposed the darker side of Major League baseball life

Jim Bouton was the former Yankee pitcher who wrote the first insiders look at life in Major League baseball. “Ball Four,” published in 1970, is considered one of the most important sports books of all time. Bouton gave readers the first inside look at the game and the players, exposing the seedier side of the sport. Before his book, baseball players had an image of wholesome milk drinking All-American guys but Bouton wrote about cheating on wives, drinking, and swearing. He was ostracized by many players and was said to be blacklisted by the league. He was a hard throwing fastball pitcher with the Yankees who won 40 games in 1962 and 1963 until an arm injury turned him into a knuckleball throwing journeyman player. After he retired, he became an actor, starring in Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye,” and in a sitcom version of “Ball Four” that was canceled after 5 episodes.

We invite you to share condolences for Jim Bouton in our Guest Book.

Died: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 (Who else died on July 10?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 80.


Is there someone you miss whose memory should be honored? Here are some ways.


On his love of baseball: "A ballplayer spends a good piece of his life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." 

What they said about him:  “RIP Jim Bouton, author of 'Ball Four,' the greatest sports book of all time.” —Sportswriter Peter King

“Without a doubt, 'Ball Four' is one of the most subversive and clarifying documents about America.” —Davis Simon, creator of HBO’s “The Wire”

Full obituary: New York Times

Related lives: