Jim Bouton, a former New York Yankees pitcher and best-selling author who died on Wednesday, was a New Jersey delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention pledged to George McGovern.
Bouton refused to vote for McGovern’s vice presidential pick, Thomas Eagleton, and instead cast his vote for Mike Gravel, then a Senator from Alaska and now a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Then a resident of Wykcoff, Bouton led the 13-candidate slate of McGovern delegates running at-large in Bergen County. Among his running mates were future Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.
In the 1972 Democratic primary, the McGovern slate carried Bergen County over a slate pledged to Hubert Humphrey. Bouton received 32,246 votes, defeating the top vote-getter on the Humphrey slate, Renee Block, by 18,898 votes.
Bouton was elected vice chairman of the New Jersey delegation to the Miami convention. The delegation chair was future State Sen. Anne Martindell, the aunt of Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill).
“Jim Bouton was a great athlete, a progressive active Democrat, an author, and an all-around good guy. He was one of the funniest man I have ever met,” Weinberg said in a tweet. “I am sad he’s gone from our world.”
Bouton was born in Newark in 1939 and lived in Rochelle Park and Ridgewood before his family moved to Chicago when he was 15.
He played for the Yankees from 1962 to 1968, He played on one World Championship team and was an American League All-Star in 1963.
Bouton’s controversial book, Ball Four, a diary of his 1969 season with the expansion Seattle Pilots, became a bestseller. Naming names, the book offered a previously unreported view of baseball, including poor behavior and drug use. It made him a pariah among many of his former teammates, including Mickey Mantle.
He died after a long battle with cerebral amyloid angiopathy. He was 80.
This story was updated at 10:40 PM to include Weinberg’s comment.