Kepner: Jim Bouton, author and former pitcher, struggles with brain disease

From SABR member Tyler Kepner at the New York Times on July 1, 2017:

The old knuckleballer grips his favorite pitch with three fingernails. Most pitchers use two, but for him that makes the pitch wobbly, impossible to control. Jim Bouton, 78, uses his ring finger, too. This is the grip he showed Johnny Carson four decades ago on the set of “The Tonight Show,” and the grip he displayed for a recent visitor in his backyard, high up in the Berkshires.


Bouton had a stroke five years ago this Aug. 15. They know the date because it was the 15th anniversary of the death of Bouton’s daughter, Laurie, in a car accident.

“The body knows, you know?” Kurman said, softly. “The body knows.”

Bouton’s body was largely unaffected by the stroke. But his mind, the one whose pointed and poignant observations produced the classic memoir “Ball Four” in 1970, will never be the same. This weekend in New York, at the convention for the Society of American Baseball Research, Bouton went public about his brain disease: cerebral amyloid angiopathy, which is linked to dementia.

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Originally published: July 2, 2017. Last Updated: July 2, 2017.