It was sad to hear the news of the passing of former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, the author of the tell-all “Ball Four,” who reportedly died Wednesday following a battle with a brain disease. In 2012, he suffered a pair of strokes. The Newark native — number 56 — won two World Series games and was a 20-game winner. He spent ten years with Major League baseball. Bouton’s book created significant controversy as it detailed the love life of Yankees legend Mickey Mantle, the widespread use of stimulants by players, among other scandalous topics.
Bouton made his Major League debut with the Yankees in 1962 and would go on to win 62 games in the big leagues and compile a most respectable 3.57 earned run average before injuries curtailed his career. Bouton appeared in 36 games during the 1962 season, including 16 starts, and had a win-loss record of 7-7. While he did not play in the Yankees’ 1962 World Series victory over the San Francisco Giants he had been slated to start game seven before rainout allowed ace Ralph Terry to take the mound. Bouton went 21-7 and 18-13 in the next two seasons, and appeared in the 1963 All-Star Game. He was 2-1 with a 1.48 ERA in World Series play.
Bouton played for the Amenia Monarchs following his pro career. In 1992, the former Yankee who still threw a mean knuckler, 53 at the time, pitched four games for Amenia that year and won three of them, including a start against Lakeville where Bouton pitched eight innings, allowed five hits and two runs to take the victory. Battery mate Mike Kohut, who mever misses an inning behind the plate, is also 53, for the regular season league leading Amenia Monarchs.
One quick story that comes to mind, in 1992, ESPN sent a crew out to Amenia to profile Bouton who was scheduled to pitch that day for the Monarchs. Amenia had only 8 players show for the game and suffered its first forfeit since 1934. Needless to say, there was no game video on ESPN that night…
The heart-breaking read reminded me of one of the greatest nights in Tri-State history, when the Tri-State all-stars clashed with the Torrington Titans on 4th of July, 2011. Former New York Yankee All Star, Jim Bouton, threw out the first pitch on that Monday evening at Fuessenich Park.Bouton then came out to pitch the fourth inning, after an audio playing of legendary Yankee announcer Robert Leo Shephard “Ladies and gentleman, now pitching, Number 56, Jim Bouton” and proceeded to pitch a scoreless fourth, much to the delight of a large crowd (900 people). And important to note: The Titans never got a ball out of the infield against the, at the time, 72 year-old Bouton.
Former American Idol star William Hung, famous for his delightful rendition of “She Bangs” (originally a Ricky Martin song), performed his signature song along with other hits throughout the night.
Other attractions included a skydiver carrying an American Flag, who landed on the field at Fussenich Park at 6:58 p.m., just before the first pitch. The “All in Band” performed from 3:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. at the park while a Home Run Derby (4 p.m) took place on the field in front of nearly 400 people. Kids ages 10-15 were allowed on the field to help shag baseballs during the Derby. Admission to the Derby was free but donations were accepted at the door to benefit the Glenn Winn, Jr. Campership program, a United Way of Northwest Connecticut fund.
The Torrington Titans played three games against the Tri-State all-stars over a 3 year span, record: 1 win, 1 loss, 1 tie