Jimmy Piersall


On June 23, 1963 knowing that his teammate Duke Snider didn’t receive much attention for hitting his 400th career homerun earlier in the season, New York Mets outfielder Jimmy Piersall thought up an idea to get more attention as his 100th career homerun was soon to be accomplished.  “He practiced doing it!”


Dallas Green was pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies. Piersall hit a pop-up homerun just clearing the left field fence. Jimmy’s 100th career homerun was a 260’ pop-up. This was the last year the Mets played at The Polo Grounds. He then proceeded with his practice plan. He pranced around the bases backwards. “I did it good too,” Piersall said. He also said “I even shook hands with the third base coach.”

The stunt made all the front pages of the New York newspapers. Everyone loved the prank except his manager, Casey Stengel. Piersall said “Stengel was so mad he cut me.” He also said, “but I got $6,000.00 severance for one month which made it the best payday in baseball, although I’d hit only .194 for the Mets. He did me a favor.”

Jimmy Piersall, one of the most colorful players in baseball history, wrote two fascinating books.



FEAR STRIKES OUT” is a book about a very mentally ill man. With the help of his wife, teammates, manager, and fans he had a complete medical recovery. Along with his own courage and will, he resumed his baseball career! A compelling story how Jimmy overcame his fears, it is a heartwarming and dramatic true life biography. It is wonderful to hear how the Boston Red Sox organization, from the manager down, backed him up as he fought for his rehabilitation. They helped him with his struggle as he regained his confidence and fought all the way back to normality.

The book “Fear Strikes Out” was first available in the mid 1950’s by Piersall with help from Al Hirshberg. A short story written by Hirshberg called “They Called Me Crazy – And I Was” was printed in the Saturday Evening Post. Piersall’s book was on the NY Times Best Seller List for at least a week. It was the first baseball book to make it there after Babe Ruth’s book seven years previous.

It was made into a movie starring Tony Perkins and Karl Malden. Piersall did not like Malden’s performance as his over bearing father. Nor did he care for Perkins lifestyle when it became known. The movie never made any honors.

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