From the day he first stepped into the New York Yankee clubhouse in 1962 at the age of 23, Jim Bouton was baseball’s deceptive revolutionary. Behind the all-American boy-next-door good looks and formidable fastball, lurked an unlikely maverick with a decidedly signature style – both on and off the diamond.
Whether it was his frank talk about MLB front office management and player salaries, passionate advocacy of progressive politics, or efforts to convince the Johnson Administration to boycott the 1968 Summer Olympics, “Bulldog” Bouton fearlessly – and seemingly effortlessly – confronted a largely conservative sports world and compelled it to catch up with a rapidly changing American society.
On the field, Bouton defied tremendous odds to reach the majors – first with the champion Bronx Bombers (making 1963’s AL All-Star team in his second season, and winning two World Series games in 1964) – and later, with an improbable post-retirement comeback at age 39 with the Atlanta Braves.
But in between, it was his memorable 1969 season with the woeful one-year Seattle Pilots – and his groundbreaking tell-all account called Ball Four – that literally and figuratively changed the game (not to mention Bouton’s career) by reintroducing America to its national pastime in a profound and traditional-altering way.
Author Mitch Nathanson (Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original) joins the show for a look at Bouton’s unconventional life, and how – in the cliquey, bottom‑line world of professional baseball, Bouton managed to be both an insider and an outsider all at once.
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