James Alan Bouton (born March 8, 1939 in Newark, New Jersey) was a 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.

Bouton started his major league career in 1962 with the Yankees, and in the subsequent two seasons the hard-throwing right-hander won 21 and 18 games. However, in 1965, an arm injury slowed his fastball and ended his status as a pitching phenomenon. Relegated mostly to bullpen duty, Bouton began experimenting with the knuckleball in an effort to lengthen his career. In 1969, after 2 years as a relief pitcher, Bouton was sold to an expansion team, the Seattle Pilots.

Ball Four broke numerous taboos because of its explicit depiction of life in baseball. While it contained numerous amusing and unflattering stories, it also revealed for the first time the drinking habits of Mickey Mantle and his Yankee teammates, which had been kept out of the press, and Bouton also described the drug use and womanizing rampant among major-league baseball players. Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn called the book "detrimental to baseball." The book made him unpopular with many other baseball players and coaches, who felt he had betrayed their trust and breached the long-standing rule that what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. He described the fallout from Ball Four and his ensuing battles with Kuhn and other the following year in another diary, entitled I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally.

Bouton retired in 1970. His comeback bid five years later failed, but in 1978, the anti-establishment Ted Turner signed him to a contract with the Atlanta Braves, where he compiled a 1-3 record in five starts. Bouton detailed his comeback in a third book, titled Ball Five as well as adding a Ball Six, updating the stories of the players in Ball Four, for the 20th anniversary edition. These was collected (in 2000) with the original as The Final Pitch, along with a new coda that detailed his reconciliation with the Yankees following the death of his daughter in road traffic accident.

After his baseball career ended a second time, Bouton was one of the inventors of "Big League Chew," a bubblegum product shredded to resemble chewing tobacco and sold in a tobacco-like pouch. He has also written Strike Zone (a baseball novel) and Foul Ball, a non-fiction account of the residents' attempt to save their historic minor league baseball stadium in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.


"You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time."

"This winter [1977] I'm working out every day, throwing against a wall. I'm 11-0 against the wall."

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