Jim Bouton has another comeback in store.
Last week, an email chain between friends and associates of the 78-year-old former Yankee pitcher made the rounds celebrating the 40th anniversary of “The Bulldog’s” unlikely return to Major League Baseball in 1978, just shy of his 40th birthday. Bouton played that game with the Atlanta Braves, after an eight-year absence from the majors, and recorded a win over the San Francisco Giants.
Now we’re told Bouton’s management team at Don Buchwald Associates has been stealthily working on another pitch — the adaptation of Bouton’s 1970 classic “Ball Four” as a television series.
“(It’s) making the rounds to production companies in the TV world,” an industry insider confirms. It’s thought that the advent of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime opens new markets for a retro sitcom. The surprising post-season hopes of the 2017 Yankees squad could also be helpful.
“There have been a number of inquiries throughout the past several months,”we’re told by that source.
Bouton’s book detailed his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots, who existed for only one season. But in that book, he managed to anger many of the Yankee teammates he’d played with from 1962 to 1968, most notably Mickey Mantle, with whom Bouton made amends shortly before The Mick died in 1995.
Jim Bouton wants to see “Ball Four” pitched to a new generation.
(Richard Drew/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
CBS aired a “Ball Four” series in 1976 and it fared even worse that the Pilots, lasting not even an entire season.
Before “Ball Four,” no high-profile professional athlete had ever written a sports tell-all, and we’re told, part of the problem with the CBS series is the then-controversial program couldn’t procure MLB licensing rights.
Bouton (photo) at the time compared the show’s five-episode run to “Gilligan’s Island in baseball suits” and admitted he was relieved when it was cancelled.
We’re told Bouton would like to be associated with a “Ball Four” return, though it was reported in July he was battling cerebral amyloid angiopathy, which is a brain disease that can lead to dementia. Bouton said at the time the affliction was negatively impacting his writing abilities.
Don Buchwald Associates declined to comment.
With Brian Niemietz