BOSTON, MA-Jimmy Piersall, a former outfielder and member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, passed away yesterday at 87 years old at a care facility in Wheaton, IL, after a months-long illness.Piersall spent eight of his 17 major league seasons with the Red Sox (1950, '52-58). The two-time
BOSTON, MA-Jimmy Piersall, a former outfielder and member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, passed away yesterday at 87 years old at a care facility in Wheaton, IL, after a months-long illness.
Piersall spent eight of his 17 major league seasons with the Red Sox (1950, '52-58). The two-time Gold Glove Award winner (1958, '61) appeared in 931 games for Boston, primarily as a center fielder alongside fellow Red Sox Hall of Famers Jackie Jensen and Ted Williams. He was named an All-Star in 1954 and 1956, and in 1956 he also earned the Thomas A. Yawkey Award as the Red Sox' Most Valuable Player after leading the majors in doubles (40) and playing in each of Boston's 155 games.
Elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2010, Piersall still holds the club record for most hits in a nine-inning game, as he went 6-for-6 in the first game of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns on June 10, 1953. He led Boston outright in stolen bases three times (1953, '57-58), in runs scored twice (1953, '57), and in triples once (1953).
Following his time with the Red Sox, Piersall played for the Cleveland Indians (1959-61), Washington Senators (1962-63), New York Mets (1963), and Los Angeles/California Angels (1963-67). For his career, he batted .272 (1,604-for-5,890) with 256 doubles, 52 triples, 104 home runs, 115 stolen bases, 591 RBI, and 811 runs scored.
Regarded as one of the best defensive players of his era, Piersall recorded 95 assists, 21 double plays, and a .990 fielding percentage in the outfield. In 1953, his seven double plays led all major league outfielders and his 349 putouts led all right fielders. Among players who appeared in at least 1,000 games in the outfield from 1920-70, Piersall ranked first in fielding percentage (.990), ahead of several Hall of Famers including Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.
Piersall suffered a nervous breakdown in 1952 and courageously battled mental health illness throughout his career. His autobiography, Fear Strikes Out, was published in 1955 and made into a movie in 1957, advancing awareness of mental health issues.
Following his playing career, Piersall served in a variety of roles with three major league teams, including as a broadcast partner with Harry Caray for the Chicago White Sox. Piersall also worked as a roving minor league outfield instructor with the Chicago Cubs and was instrumental in the development of several notable players, including Rafael Palmeiro and 1989 National League Rookie of the Year Jerome Walton. In 2012, Piersall was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.
Born on November 14, 1929 in Waterbury, CT, Piersall grew up a Red Sox fan. He led Leavenworth High School to the New England Basketball Championship in 1947, scoring 29 points in the title game at Boston Garden. He signed with the Red Sox at age 18.
A father of nine, Piersall is survived by his wife, Jan, and his children, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in the near future.