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Fear Strikes Out the Jim Piersall Story

James Piersall

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ISBN 10: 0316707562 / ISBN 13: 9780316707565
Published by Little Brown & Co (T), 2007
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Fear Strikes Out the Jim Piersall Story

Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T)

Publication Date: 2007

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

Edition: Reprint.

About this title

Synopsis:

An autobiographical account of this promising ballplayer's mental collapse, his lengthy treatment in a mental hospital, and his successful return to baseball

Review:

Once again, the Bison Books imprint of the University of Nebraska Press has reached into baseball's past and returned with a Hall of Fame read. Fear Strikes Out is one of the game's most dramatic autobiographies. It is also one of the most important. When first published in 1955, it ventured into territory traditionally considered out of play for a sports story. "I must have been quite a card when I first broke into baseball's big league as a Boston Red Sox rookie in 1952," Piersall opens rather cheerily. He was a baseball clown, and the fans loved his offbeat shenanigans. One paragraph later, he tosses a huge, hanging curve. "Almost everybody...thought I was a riot. My wife knew I was sick, yet she was helpless to stop my mad rush toward a mental collapse."

In time, Piersall would become one of the silkiest centerfielders of the '50s--no mean feat given his contemporaries Mantle and Mays. A new afterword by Piersall catches us up to his later years (and stunts) in baseball and his post-career as a broadcaster. Fear is actually a prologue to that. It's a courageous story. Piersall's demons had him by the throat and nearly choked him. The breakdown he suffered early in his rookie years was so complete and so terrifying that his mind blanked out the next seven months before his own healing allowed for a painful reconstruction. Given that Fear was written in an era before biographic confessional and the public washing of an athlete's unclean flannels, Piersall's honesty and detail about mental illness, hospitalization, psychiatric therapy, and the struggle back to sanity are extraordinary. This is a truly marvelous book--better than the movie starring Anthony Perkins that was made from it--and, like the lead-off hitter Piersall was, it's earned its spot at the top of the order of any serious collection of baseball biographies. --Jeff Silverman

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