From gripping a knuckleball to brain disease gripping Jim Bouton

The dance is only too different now for Jim Bouton and his wife, Paula Kurman.

The dance is only too different now for Jim Bouton and his wife, Paula Kurman, now that Bouton battles cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

Freshly-deceased Anthony Young, hapless Mets pitcher, showed grace under the harrowing pressure of a record-breaking losing streak and in refusing to let the inoperable brain tumour that killed him last week knock him down. Now another New York baseball legend shows his own grace under the pressure of insidious brain disease. 

And, unlike some of the reaction he got when he published the book that changed his and baseball’s life irrevocably, there won’t be many wisecracks about former Yankee, Pilots, Astros, and Braves pitcher Jim Bouton’s brain making for a good dog’s breakfast.

Jim Bouton's Forgotten Postscript

Which is worse? A baseball commissioner trying to suppress a from-the-inside book written by an active player? An opposing team burning a copy of the book?

When Jim Bouton’s Ball Four reached the magazine-excerpt stage and, then, full publication, in 1970, the former Yankee fastball standout, reduced by arm miseries to knuckleballing, marginal Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros middle reliever/spot starter, had both happen. But if you wonder whether Bouton shriveled into a shell and disappeared as a result, you don’t remember much of his post-playing life. Not to mention the book he published a year later.