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A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION
Frank Deford
July 03, 1978
Jim Bouton, the former World Series hero, best selling author and TV star, is back pitching in Double A. At 39 years old, he has junked his other careers to knuckleball his guts out in the game that he loves
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July 03, 1978

A Magnificent Obsession

Jim Bouton, the former World Series hero, best selling author and TV star, is back pitching in Double A. At 39 years old, he has junked his other careers to knuckleball his guts out in the game that he loves

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And that is the sort of cheer Bouton has been getting, good nights and not so good. People seem to respond to his obsession, even if they don't necessarily comprehend it. "Hell, if he's a prospect, then I'm a prospect, too" is what Dews said late one night. "He makes me think somebody is going to take me up there." Prospects are not just kids with arms that scouts want or customers with orders that salesmen want. Bouton evokes the thought that a prospect can be anybody who wants to go up, wherever up may be.

"I told him last year, 'The odds are with you because it's never been done before,' " Bobby Bouton says. "And sometimes now it's easy to dream that it will happen." The next time out after she said this, Bouton came back to Knoxville, where he was 0-6 last year, and pitched a 1-0 two-hitter. He had told them at Knoxville that it would take a while to get the knuckleball to behave. And here it was, falling off the table. Falling off the proverbial table! Now, perhaps, everybody will get a chance in Seattle.

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