Jim Bouton was so sure that his dream of professional baseball would never come true that he did a Career Week essay on becoming a forest ranger. Later, Bouton became one of the best loved baseball players in America.
People are still having trouble predicting what Jim Bouton might 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 1969 he wrote Ball Four, the funny, controversial, all-time bestseller that revealed baseball players as human beings. Ball Four was recently selected by the New York Public Library as one of the "Books of the Century." The latest update, titled Ball Four: The Final Pitch, is now entertaining a new generation.
In 1970 Bouton retired from baseball and became a television sportscaster in New York where he helped WABC-TV and then WCBS-TV climb to 1st place in the ratings. During the 70's he wrote a sequel to Ball Four entitled I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally, earned good reviews in a Robert Altman movie, The Long Goodbye, and created, wrote and acted in a CBS network TV sitcom 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 by 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.
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. In 1997 Bouton wrote his first novel, Strike Zone, which is now in paperback.
In 1998, after 28 years, Bouton was finally invited to Old Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium when his son Michael wrote a letter to The New York Times saying the Yankees should forgive his dad for having written Ball Four.
Bouton, who lives in Massachusetts with his wife Paula Kurman, is a frequent guest on radio and television. His hobbies are building stone walls and ballroom dancing.