Bouton and his wife, Paula Kurman. Bouton has had two strokes and suffers from cerebral amyloid angiopathy, a brain disease linked to dementia.
Button had a little before its 2012 episode, which was immediately treated with a blood thinner. It was “catastrophic,” said Dr. Alec Kloman, a neurologist at the Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and bleeding into the frontal lobe. Bleeding has dissipated, but the day after, the linguistic skills Button were essentially destroyed. You had to learn to read, write, speak and understand.
Kurman had worked with children damaged by the brain several years ago and acknowledged distressing signals in her husband’s repeated questions, making it difficult to organize and classify the information. A visit to Kloman confirmed that Button suffered more from the side effects of a stroke. He had mild cognitive impairment.
“The fear is that, over time, 80 percent of patients evolve to a Dementation stage in the next five years,” Kloman said. “This is a blow to the bow. It indicates that something is coming.”
Button no longer looks much of baseball, but he is dedicated to the new and can still summon old tales, but sometimes it repeats itself. A framed photo of him with Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle hangs on a wall near the kitchen.
He remembers his mother, Trudy, was first encouraged to take notes about his baseball life. These notes – especially on drivers in 1969, their only year of existence before they moved to Milwaukee – laid the foundation for “Four Ball”, which was edited by Leonard Shecter.
“Some of the players I had not really loved, but I listened to them, and it became interesting,” said Button, sitting in a chair on the porch. “I had no idea. They were fun and interesting characters.”
“I think it has come in the last few years, I love them,” said Kurman, who was sitting nearby. “Just like they all died, they really let go about this.” She realized how much they were part of her.