Spring, 2021 Auction - Closes April 3, 2021
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/4/2021

Few players in the history of the game were more colorful, more fun-loving, and more controversial than pitcher Jim Bouton, who in his 80 years, lived an incredible life.

A star in his second season, Bouton posted a 21-7 record for the 1963 Yankees, with a 2.53 ERA.  He followed that up with an 18-13 record in 1964, leading the league with 37 starts and winning both his starts in the 1964 World Series.  An arm injury in 1965 hampered his career, however, and by 1968 he had revived his career as a relief pitcher, appearing in 57 games for the 1969 Seattle Pilots in their debut season before being part of a late-season trade to the Astros.  It was during the 1968 season that sportswriter Leonard Schecter approached Bouton with the idea of writing a season-long diary.  Bouton began chronicling his 1969 season with the Pilots - unlike baseball diaries that had been published previously, however, Bouton's book, Ball Four, was a legendary story that did not whitewash the off-the-field activities of players, including their drunken behavior, drug use, and personal gossip.  The book ruffled featuers throughout the game, causing Bouton to be an extremely controversial figure.  

Bouton retired after the publication of the book, but continued a career as a sportscaster, eventually attempting a comeback with the 1978 Atlanta Braves.  He continued pitching in semipro leagues, and was a player and executive with the Vintage Base Ball Federation, a 19th Century rules league.  He was also one of the inventors of Big League Chew bubble gum.  

Presented here is a gorgeous flannel uniform jersey and pants from Bouton's last season, the 1970 season with Houston.  The year Ball Four was released, it was certainly a distracting year for Bouton, as he appeared in 29 games with a 5.40 ERA amidst the considerable controversy stirred up by the book.  

The jersey is a gorgeous Rawlings size 42 flannel, exhibiting signs of heavy use, all the proper tagging identifying the jersey and pants as his 1970 road greys in place.  The uniform has been safely tucked away in the collection of Bouton's fellow broadcaster Ted Patterson, who sadly passed away as this auction was being prepared.  Bouton signed the tail in his distinctive signature, in blue fiber tip marker.  Jim Bouton died in 2019 after a life of baseball. 

In thinking of Ted, and of Jim Bouton, I realized that Jim Bouton is the author of one of the greatest quotes about baseball there ever was.  It applied to his career, it applies to Ted, and in a way, it applies to every one of us that goes through auction catalogs, rehashing our memories of the game, adding special pieces to our collection.  The quote goes like this:

You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.

That is the final sentence in Ball Four.  Bouton write it late in 1970, after the season was over.  But he probably thought of it while he was wearing this uniform.  

Full LOA from MEARS, who have graded the jersey and pants A10.

PLEASE NOTE:  A question from a bidder regarding the number stitched into the pants caused us to reach out to MEARS for further information.  It can clearly be seen in the stitching in the pants that the uniform number these pants corresponded with was number 24, which was assigned to Jimmy "The Toy Cannon" Wynn.  This brings up the natural question of how MEARS could attribute these pants to Bouton, whose uniform number is 56.

MEARS will be providing a new LOA with an updated comment section that reads as follows:

   Shirt was accompanied by a pair of pants, and MEARS assumes this was submitted for evaluation as a complete uniform.  The pants   are tagged, "36 24 3 70" with #1 written in orange marker (which is assumed to denote set #1).

   Although the pants are not matching to the uniform number, #24 vs #56, it is a common major league practice for uniforms to have mismatched pant to jersey.

   Based on Bouton's 6', 200 pound frame and a comparison of similar contemporary players, the size 36" waist is consistent with what Bouton would have worn as a player, and MEARS is comfortable attributing this ensemble as a complete uniform as issued and worn by Jim Bouton.

This uniform, in its entirety, was consigned from the collection of Ted Patterson, who we are confident received it directly from Bouton, well after his first retirement during the 1970 season.  Bouton was demoted to AAA in July of 1970, after the publication of Ball Four and after a subpar start to the season.  After two poor outings in the minors, Bouton retired from baseball, an outcast who had lost all confidence.  In our opinion, it is reasonable to assume that Bouton left Houston with his home and away uniforms.  Unfortunately, he never returned to the Astros, instead becoming a sports reporter in New York City.  At some point after Ted Patterson began his broadcasting career in the mid-1970s, he obtained this uniform from Bouton.  

That being said, we understand that there is also a leap of faith involved with this, and based on MEARS' clarification on the pants, we felt it was important to amend our description.  Additionally, we are posting this amendment after midnight on March 23, and are sending an errata email to all current bidders on the lot, offering the opportunity for the high bidder and, if necessary, the underbidders to delete their bids if they choose, based on this additional information.  Bidders will have until midnight on March 24 to contact us if they choose to have their bids deleted.

Jim Bouton 1970 Game-Worn Houston Astros Flannel Road Uniform - The Year of Ball Four - MEARS A10Jim Bouton 1970 Game-Worn Houston Astros Flannel Road Uniform - The Year of Ball Four - MEARS A10Jim Bouton 1970 Game-Worn Houston Astros Flannel Road Uniform - The Year of Ball Four - MEARS A10Jim Bouton 1970 Game-Worn Houston Astros Flannel Road Uniform - The Year of Ball Four - MEARS A10Jim Bouton 1970 Game-Worn Houston Astros Flannel Road Uniform - The Year of Ball Four - MEARS A10Jim Bouton 1970 Game-Worn Houston Astros Flannel Road Uniform - The Year of Ball Four - MEARS A10
Jim Bouton 1970 Game-Worn Houston Astros Flannel Road Uniform - The Year of "Ball Four" - MEARS A10
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Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $2,460
Number Bids: 6
Auction closed on Sunday, April 4, 2021.
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