Jimmy Piersall died last weekend. He was 87. He was a great outfielder, one of the best I ever saw. But, the thing that made him so well-known is that he was “a character.” Once he ran around the bases backwards. Once he threw a ball at the scoreboard.
He was the first bipolar person (manic-depressive, then) in sports to be publicly labeled. He did it himself by writing a remarkable book, Fear Strikes Out., which In 1957, became a powerful movie, though Jimmy claimed a bunch of it wasn’t true or from his book. Trailer: (trailer: //www.youtube.com/watch?
Always outspoken, Piersall was the White Sox announcer with Harry Caray from 1977-1981. They were never dull. They might have been the last announcers, in Chicago at least, who weren’t ”homers,” (rooting for their team even if it was terrible.) Eventually Harry went to the Cubs and became a legend. Jimmy was a part-time outfield coach for the Cubs, but his mouth got him in trouble there too.
We shot this clip for the first show of THE 90’s series (52 hours total) in 1989. We asked Jimmy about the future of baseball. –Tom Weinberg