July 19, 1969: Jim Bouton ‘creamed’ in only start for the Seattle Pilots, as Minnesota Twins win in 18 innings

This article was written by Gary Belleville

Jim Bouton (TRADING CARD DB)As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Jim Bouton had approached Seattle Pilots pitching coach Sal Maglie and asked why reliever Diego Seguí had been selected to start the first game of their July 18 twin bill instead of him.1

Bouton wasn’t satisfied with Maglie’s answer, but after Seguí won his start and the Pilots pulled off a surprising doubleheader sweep of the powerful Minnesota Twins, manager Joe Schultz asked Bouton if he had thrown too much in the bullpen that night. “Hell no,” replied Bouton. “Good,” said Schultz. “You’re starting tomorrow night.”2

It had been a long road back for the 30-year-old Bouton, who had started only four big-league games since the start of the 1967 season.3 The Pilots purchased his contract for $20,000 from the New York Yankees on June 15, 1968, making him one the first players to join the expansion franchise.4 The Yankees were so keen to get rid of the outspoken Bouton that they even picked up $8,000 of his 1968 salary.5 It turned out to be a steal for the Pilots, considering they paid $175,000 for each player selected in the October 1968 expansion draft.6

Bouton spent the remainder of the 1968 season pitching in the Pacific Coast League for the Seattle Angels. Although his statistics were less than spectacular, he pitched well late in the season after deciding to throw mainly knuckleballs.7 The blazing fastball that helped him win 39 regular-season games for the 1963-64 Yankees – and two more in the World Series – had long since departed.

Bouton made the Pilots out of spring training in 1969, which was not a given.8 But one poor relief outing on April 13 resulted in his demotion to the Vancouver Mounties for a two-week stint in the minors.9 Bouton pitched effectively upon his return to the Pilots: In 36 relief appearances between April 30 and July 17, the knuckleballer held opponents to a .208 batting average, and he posted a tidy 3.00 ERA.

Bouton’s long-awaited start came against the Twins, a veteran team perched in first place in the American League West Division with a 57-37 record, 3½ games ahead of the Oakland Athletics. The Minnesota offense, which was led by veteran Harmon Killebrew and 23-year-old Rod Carew, was the most potent in the American League.10

Jerry Crider, a 27-year-old rookie right-hander, got the start for Minnesota. He was making his first major-league start after posting a 5.09 ERA in 14 relief appearances.

The Pilots limped – both literally and figuratively − into the game in third place in the AL West with a 40-53 record. Seattle had stayed close to the .500 mark through the first three months of the season; so far in July it had won only 6 of 20 games. Schultz was forced to field a makeshift lineup with four of his eight starting position players unavailable because of injury, including his top hitter, Mike Hegan.11

Bouton’s outing was an uphill battle from the beginning, as he struggled with his control and was frequently behind in the count. Worse still, by Bouton’s assessment only one-third of his knuckleballs had any significant movement on them.12

After the Twins loaded the bases with two out in the top of the first inning, Bouton tossed Bob Allison a full-count knuckleball.13 Allison struck out looking to end the threat.

In the top of the second, Bouton gave up two runs on a walk, a double, and a single by Ted Uhlaender.

After retiring the Twins in order the next inning, Bouton got pounded in the fourth. Leo Cárdenas hit a solo homer, and with two outs in the inning the pitcher Crider hit his second consecutive double off Bouton. The next batter, Uhlaender, hit a two-run homer, and Minnesota led, 5-0. Bouton headed for the showers after only 3⅔ innings.

Uhlaender extended Minnesota’s lead to 6-0 with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly off reliever Dick Baney, giving him five RBIs in the game.14

Crider, meanwhile, had kept Seattle off the scoresheet through five innings. But he ran out of gas in the sixth, and the Pilots began to claw back into the game. Jerry McNertney and third baseman Ron Clark each drove in a run to cut the lead to 6-2, knocking Crider out of the game.15

Light-hitting Ray Oyler pulled the Pilots to within three runs in the eighth inning with an RBI single off Al Worthington.

After the Pilots put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the ninth, left-handed slugger Don Mincher came to the plate representing the potential tying run. Rookie manager Billy Martin brought in lefty Ron Perranoski, the AL saves leader with 18. Mincher tapped an RBI groundout, and pinch-hitter Jim Pagliaroni pulled the Pilots to within a run with an RBI single.

McNertney hit a grounder to second base that should have ended the game, but Carew booted it and the inning continued. The next batter, Clark, singled to tie the game. Perranoski retired Oyler, sending the game into extra innings.

Since Schultz had burned through the position players on his bench,16 the slow-footed catcher Pagliaroni went out into right field for his only career appearance in the outfield.17

The score remained tied, 6-6, until the top of the 15th. Thirty-six-year-old catcher John Roseboro put the Twins ahead with an RBI groundout off Gene Brabender, who had come into the game in the ninth. Pagliaroni got that run back with one out in the bottom of the inning with a line-drive home run over the 320-foot sign in left field, and the game went to the 16th inning.18

Both teams threatened, but failed, to score in the 16th. Since the inning ended after 12:59 A.M., the game was suspended according to the league’s curfew rule.19

It was restarted before the regularly scheduled game the next day. Only 8,287 fans were in attendance that Sunday afternoon, largely because of the televised broadcast of a landmark event: The Apollo 11 moon landing.20

With both bullpens depleted, the managers used their scheduled starters to begin the 17th inning: Seattle’s John Gelnar and Minnesota ace Jim Perry.21 Neither team scored in the 17th.

In the top of the 18th, Perry doubled to start a rally. He eventually scored the go-ahead run on a balk by Gelnar,22 and the Twins added three more runs in the inning to take an 11-7 lead.23

Perry retired the Pilots in order in the bottom of the inning to end the 5-hour 41-minute marathon.24

The two teams combined to leave 44 men on base, setting a new AL record.25 Pilots pitchers also tied a league record by walking 18 batters.26

Perry and Gelnar returned to the hill in the regularly scheduled game that followed. Perry pitched a complete-game shutout, giving him the win in both games and raising his record to 11-4; Gelnar was saddled with both losses.

Bouton was back in the bullpen after his rocky start, holding opposition batters to a .208 batting average in 18 relief outings between July 20 and August 23.27 After registering four strikeouts and no walks in 2⅔ innings against Cleveland on August 23, Bouton was traded to the Houston Astros for Dooley Womack and a minor-league pitcher.28

Suddenly, Bouton went from the sad-sack Pilots to the thick of a pennant race.29

The knuckleballer got off to a great start with the Astros. He pitched a perfect inning of relief on August 26 and tossed a 10-inning complete game three days later against the hard-hitting Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite striking out a career-high 11 batters, Bouton took the hard-luck loss after surrendering a pair of unearned runs in the 10th inning.30 He pitched well in a relief role until Houston fell out of the pennant race. Bouton struggled in his last five appearances, finishing with a 4.11 ERA with the Astros.

Although it is unclear just how many of Bouton’s teammates were aware of what he was doing,31 he had been taking notes and speaking into a tape recorder daily throughout the 1969 season in preparation for writing a tell-all book. By the time Ball Four was released on June 21, 1970, the Pilots had already moved to Milwaukee to become the Brewers. The controversial book, which provided an unvarnished look at the lives of big-league ballplayers, angered the baseball establishment and many of Bouton’s former teammates.32 Pilots Fred Talbot, Wayne Comer, and Mincher were particularly unhappy with it, while McNertney, Brabender, and Jim Gosger were more supportive.33

In 1996 Books of the Century was published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the New York Public Library. The volume listed 159 of the most influential books of the twentieth century, and Ball Four made the cut.34 Bouton’s book radically changed how the public viewed its sports heroes and it altered the very nature of sports journalism. But it also chronicled the cast of zany characters on the Seattle Pilots, immortalizing a team that existed for only one season and may have otherwise been long forgotten.


The headline of this article uses the term “creamed,” which was taken from Bouton’s Ball Four entry for July 19, 1969: “… In my first start of the year, on this day of July 19, 1969, A.D., I, James Alan Bouton, was creamed. … When Joe Schultz came out to get me I could only think of a line Fred Talbot delivered in similar circumstances: ‘What kept you?’ … I was glad to have the chance to start, of course. Yet now that I’ve fouled everything up so royally I’m thinking of excuses. Maybe if I knew a few days in advance I could have prepared myself better. Maybe I should have taken a greenie. That’s just kidding myself, of course. I had a start and I didn’t win. … Now that I think of it, I didn’t lose either. … We went sixteen innings before stopping on account of curfew. I think I’ll remind [pitching coach] Sal [Maglie] and [manager] Joe [Schultz] that I’m still undefeated as a starter.”



This article was fact-checked by Kurt Blumenau and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to using the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, and the Baseball Player Contract Cards Collection from The Sporting News. Unless otherwise noted, all play-by-play information for this game was taken from the article “Pilots and Twins Play 7-7 Tie” on page D-1 of the July 20, 1969, edition of the Tacoma News Tribune.





1 Jim Bouton, Ball Four: The Final Pitch (Nashville, Tennessee: Turner Publishing Company, 2014), 263.

2 Bouton, 265.

3 Bouton also made 25 relief appearances with the Yankees in 1967-68. He had made 38 relief appearances for the Pilots before his July 19 start.

4 Mike Hegan was the first player under contract with the Seattle Pilots. His contract was purchased from the Yankees on June 14, one day before Bouton was acquired. Joseph Wancho, “Mike Hegan,” SABR BioProject, https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/mike-hegan/, accessed July 8, 2022.

5 The Yankees had to free up roster spots for military reservists returning from active training. However, Bouton did not have the worst statistics on the Yankees pitching staff when he was sold to Seattle. He was 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.318 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched), while Dooley Womack had a 1-5 record with a 4.44 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. Fred Talbot was 0-8 with a 3.86 ERA and 1.379 WHIP. Both Womack and Talbot remained on the Yankees roster. According Newsday’s Joe Donnelly, “Fred Talbot and Dooley Womack play it the company way. Bouton never will.” Bouton was paid a salary of $22,000 in 1968. Joe Donnelly, “He Wouldn’t Conform, So Bouton Had to Go,” Newsday (Long Island, New York), June 17, 1968: 89.

6 Brendan Macgranachan, “Starting Fresh: The Expansion of 1969,” Seamheads.com, June 13, 2008, https://seamheads.com/2008/06/13/starting-fresh-the-expansion-of-1969/, accessed July 5, 2022.

7 Mark Armour, “Jim Bouton,” SABR BioProject, https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/jim-bouton/, accessed July 5, 2022.

8 Mark Armour, “Ball Four,” https://sabr.org/bioproj/topic/ball-four/, accessed July 5, 2022.

9 The Vancouver (British Columbia) Mounties played in the Pacific Coast League from 1956 to 1962 and 1965 to 1969. The Seattle Pilots and the Montreal Expos shared Vancouver as a Triple-A affiliate in 1969.

10 Although there were still two days to go before the All-Star break, Killebrew led the majors with a stunning 91 RBIs. Carew, on his way to his first of seven batting titles, led the majors with a .367 batting average.

11 In addition to Hegan, Seattle’s injured regulars included infielders Tommy Harper, Rich Rollins, John Donaldson, and John Kennedy. Pitcher Steve Barber was also on the disabled list with a sore arm. Harper had shifted from second to third base when Rollins was lost for the season in early July with a knee injury. Donaldson, Harper’s replacement at second base, had a fractured toe. Both Harper and Donaldson were able to pinch-hit in the July 19 game. Bouton, 262.

12 Bouton, 269.

13 Bouton, 269.

14 Uhlaender’s five RBIs were a career high. He drove in 285 runs in his eight-year career with Minnesota, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. Baney had made his major-league debut eight days earlier. He was making his fourth appearance in the big leagues.

15 The Pilots had purchased Ron Clark’s contract from the Twins on July 11 after a rash of injuries hit Seattle infielders. Hy Zimmerman, “Mincher Only Healthy Regular for Infield Duty,” Seattle Daily Times, July 11, 1969: 25.

16 Hy Zimmerman, “Pilots Glitter After Dark, Fade in Daylight,” Seattle Daily Times, July 21, 1969: 19.

17 Pagliaroni did not commit an error in the game. He recorded his only putout on a fly ball in the top of the 16th inning. According to the play-by-play information on Baseball Reference, there were three Minnesota hits (one single, two doubles) to right field while Pagliaroni was in the game.

18 It was Pagliaroni’s first homer as a Seattle Pilot. His contract had been purchased from the Oakland Athletics on May 27.

19 Hy Zimmerman, “Perry Thought He Had a Homer,” Seattle Daily Times, July 21, 1969: 20.

20 The Apollo 11 lunar module touched down on the surface of the moon at 1:17 P.M. Seattle time. The regularly scheduled game was originally set to start at 2 P.M. Zimmerman, “Pilots Glitter After Dark, Fade in Daylight.”

21 The 33-year-old Perry finished the 1969 season with a 20-6 record and a 2.82 ERA. He finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting. He followed that up with a 24-12 record and a 3.04 ERA in 1970, which won him the Award.

22 Perry advanced to third on a one-out infield single by Uhlaender. Carew walked and advanced to second on Gelnar’s balk.

23 Two runs scored on a double by Charlie Manuel (newspapers referred to him as “Chuck”). The fourth run of the inning scored on a sacrifice fly by Rick Renick.

24 Two of the three hitters in the bottom of the 18th were easy outs: Oyler and pitcher Fred Talbot. Talbot pinch-hit for Garry Roggenburk, who replaced Gelnar on the mound in the top of the 18th after Manuel put Minnesota ahead, 10-7.

25 The record stood for almost 22 years. As of the start of 2022 season, the AL record was set on June 6, 1991, when the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers combined to strand 45 baserunners in an 18-inning game.

26 As of the start of the 2022 season, the record was 19 walks, set by the Cleveland Indians against the Washington Senators in the (20-inning) second game of their September 14, 1971, doubleheader.

27 Bouton posted a 3.38 ERA with 9 walks and 25 strikeouts in 26⅔ innings pitched between July 20 and August 23.

28 Bouton was leading the Pilots in pitching appearances at the time of his trade. The minor-league pitcher included in the trade for Bouton was Roric Harrison, who went on to post a 30-35 record and 4.24 ERA in eight major-league seasons with Baltimore, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Minnesota. Hy Zimmerman, “Bouton Traded for Astros’ Womack, Harrison,” Seattle Daily Times, August 26, 1969: 25.

29 The Astros were in fifth place in the NL West at the end of play on August 24, but they were only 2½ games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants.

30 The Astros didn’t commit any errors in the 10th inning, but Matty Alou reached first base on a passed ball after striking out to open the inning.

31 Bouton claimed that most of his teammates knew he was writing a book. Pilots outfielder Jim Gosger thought Ball Four was very funny, but he didn’t think any of his teammates were aware of what Bouton was up to. William J. Ryczek, Baseball on the Brink: The Crisis of 1968 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2017), 179.

32 Mark Armour, “Ball Four,” https://sabr.org/bioproj/topic/ball-four/, accessed July 6, 2022.

33 Ryczek, 179; Armour, “Ball Four.”

34 Dave Wood, “Check It Out: Library’s ‘Books of the Century’,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 28, 1996: F-17.

Additional Stats

Minnesota Twins 11
Seattle Pilots 7
18 innings

Sick’s Stadium
Seattle, WA


Box Score + PBP:

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1960s ·