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Bouton Caves on Contract

Mar. 10, 1964 - The Bulldog gave up the fight quickly.

Only 24 hours after being threatened with a “sign or be fined” ultimatum by Yankee general manager Ralph Houk, righthander Jim Bouton capitulated. He will be in Fort Lauderdale to sign tomorrow.

Bulldog Bouton, last of the holdouts, accepted the club’s final offer of $18,000, a raise of 80%. He had been told that starting tomorrow at midnight, he’d be docked $100 for every day he remained unsigned. His demand of $22,000 was considered excessive.

“I’m glad he decided to see it our way,” said Houk. “Anybody who has been around here knows I have been fair, from the point of view of the players as well as the club. And I’ve been a Jim Bouton man since I’ve known him.”

Bouton, from his home in Ridgewood, N.J., said he was not mad and hoped the club wasn’t. “I feel I’ll be treated fairly,” he said.

“He will be,” Houk agreed. “I’m not mad, and nobody else is. I’ll be glad to see him here, where he belongs. Even if he did some throwing up north, it isn’t the same as getting an arm into shape down here.”

Asked why he had given up so quickly, Bouton said: “They had me over a barrel. I checked and found that it would be legal for them to deduct the $100 a day. So, there was nothing else to do but give up. After all, this is my living, and I’d be foolish to stay unsigned and lose the $100 each day.”

Houk never had any doubt about the legality of his planned punishment. “I checked the legal point even before he did,” Ralph said. “I’m not that dumb I wouldn’t have done it unless I checked.”

Manager Yogi Berra wore a broad smile. After all, what manager doesn’t need a 20-game winner? “It’s good news,” said Yogi. “I’ll be glad to see him.”

By giving in, Bouton avoided being the first Yankee holdout to be fined since Joe DiMaggio was docked two weeks’ pay, $2,273, in the spring of 1939.

Jim’s 1963 record of 21-7 included six shutouts, and his ERA of 2.53 was fourth best in the league. Only Chicago’s Ray Herbert, with seven, topped him in shutouts.


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