Sept. 18, 1962

As anyone who saw the movie “Fear Strikes Out,” a biography of Jimmy Piersall, the former Red Sox outfielder had a history of mental illness.  Anthony Perkins’ inability to throw a baseball and Karl Malden performance as Piersall’s overbearing, under-loving father were etched in our minds.

Playing for the 1962 Washington Senators, Piersall reacted to a stream of personal, pregame heckling from a boor at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium by going into the stands and confronting a 66-year-old man, Joseph Martin. Baltimore police moved in quickly to separate the men. Police charged both men with disorderly conduct.

A few days later, on Sept, 18, a Baltimore judge, Robert Hammerman, dismissed the disorderly conduct charge against Piersall, calling him a “symbol to the people of this country of the strides a person treated for mental illness can make.,”

Furthermore, Hammerman said Piersall was justified in being provoked and had the right to lose his temper.

Sadly, Piersall’s performance on the field is often shadowed by his battle with bipolar disorder. In a career that included stints with the Red Sox, Senators, Indians, Mets and Angels, Piersall  was a two-time All Star and won two Gold Gloves. His career batting average was .272 with 104 homers.

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