Remembering Jim Piersall

Former major leaguer and author Jim Piersall died earlier this month at a care facility in Wheaton, Illinois, after a monthslong illness. He was eighty-seven years old.

Piersall played baseball in the 1950s and 1960s for the Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Senators, the New York Mets, and the California Angels. After brief forays into professional football and wrestling businesses, he worked for many years in broadcasting and minor league player development for the Chicago Cubs.

Within Piersall’s impressive baseball career, there was also his struggle with mental illness, hospitalization, and psychiatric therapy. His book, Fear Strikes Out; the Jim Piersall Story (Little, Brown, 1955), gave readers an inside look at his life—a rare experience for baseball fans.

Piersall wrote an new afterward that accompanied the new paperback edition of Fear Strikes Out (Bison Books, 1999).

Thank you, Jim, for sharing your story.

“Jim Piersall, 22 year old outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, had a mental breakdown in 1952—one so complete that seven months virtually have vanished from his memory. . . . This account of his experiences is a frank and fascinating one.”

Chicago Sunday Tribune

“The story of a man who became mentally ‘sick,’ and how, through competent medical care, the help of a sympathetic and most understanding wife, the patience and encouragement of manager, teammates and fans, and above all his own splendid courage, he made a complete recovery and resumed his baseball career. . . . How he overcame his fears is a dramatic, heart-warming story. It is most refreshing to read how the Boston Red Sox, from manager down, backed up Jim in his fight for rehabilitation, and helped him regain the confidence that brought him back.”

Library Journal