Jim Bouton, Star Pitcher of Yankees in Early 1960s, Dies at 80

Jim Bouton was 21-7 in 1963, 18-13 in '64

by Scott Mandel

Saddened to learn of the passing of one of my favorites, Jim “Bulldog” Bouton, an excellent right-handed pitcher for the Yankees in the 60s. Bulldog, who came over the top on all of his pitches, always lost his cap on the follow-through after firing fastballs. He won 21 games in ’63 and 18 more the next season. 

Jim pitched a memorable game three in the 1963 World Series for the Yanks in ’63 in a duel against Don Drysdale of the Dodgers. Drysdale pitched a three-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory, Bouton giving up just four hits for the Yankees. The only run scored in the first inning on a walk, wild pitch and single by Tommy Davis that bounced off the pitching mound.

Bouton won both his starts in the 1964 World Series. He beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 with a complete-game six-hitter on Oct. 10 on a walk-off home run by Mickey Mantle, then won again on Oct. 14 at Busch Stadium, 8-3, backed by another Mantle homer and a Joe Pepitone grand slam.

Jim was a big-game pitcher but he will always be more famous for writing the best baseball book ever, Ball Four, which changed the sport and how it was covered, off the field, when he secretly chronicled his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots. The notion of what goes on in the clubhouse shall remain in the clubhouse was blown to bits by Bouton’s hilarious recollections of his Yankee years. Mickey Mantle, in particular, didn’t forgive Bulldog for many years for sharing Mickey’s late night escapades with the world. The Yankees never invited him back for Old-Timer’s Days. They should have. 

Jim Bouton

Rest in peace, Bulldog. Jim was 80 years old. Thanks for making a kid’s earliest years as a baseball fan exciting.

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