In 1969, he pitched for the expansion Seattle Pilots, beating the Boston Red Sox twice, before joining the Houston Astros in an August waiver trade. When the Astros demoted him in 1970, he retired rather than report to the minors again.
Bouton worked for ABC and CBS affiliates as a sports anchor; played himself in a short-lived CBS series based upon his book; delivered frequent talks on baseball humor to college crowds; promoted vintage baseball games; and wrote a second book based on the tumult caused by his first one. The new title was I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally.
He also updated his best-seller, changing its title to Ball Five; co-authored a baseball novel; edited a book about managers; and produced a book called Foul Ball, detailing his efforts to save a historic ballpark in Pittsfield, MA.
I met Bouton many times, most recently at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, NJ. Even later in life, his wit was as quick as his fastball, entertaining everyone around him. He would have made a great counterpart to Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H.
Stymied by a stroke in 2012, Bouton suffered loss of memory and speaking skills over the last seven years. It was typical of him that he waited until the day after the All-Star Game before he died. He never lost his interest in baseball.
Even after he his knuckleball stopped dancing, Bouton remained an active player, pitching in Bergen County leagues across the Hudson from his TV gigs in New York. He also headed companies that created bubble gum that resembled chewing tobacco (Big League Chew) and allowed fans to produce baseball cards of themselves.
The world will miss the wit and wisdom of Jim Bouton.
He left us far too early at the age of 80.