Monday, May 21, 2012

When Piersall "exchanged autographs"

Uncommon commons. Based on contemporary accounts from The Sporting News; tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they help bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.

One of the most heralded rookies of 1952 was Boston Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall. While he hit for only a .267 average with no power, he was a sparkling defensive player with speed to run down fly balls and a strong throwing arm. 

His "antics" in the dugout and on the field, which infuriated his own manager and teammates, opponents, umpires and league officials made his a fan favorite. They also presaged a breakdown that saw him admitted to a mental hospital for seven weeks and was chronicled in the movie Fear Strike Out.  

Piersall's first major league home run (his only home run with the Red Sox in 1952) came on June 9 against Art Houtteman of the Tigers. Piersall's blow came in the fourth inning, landing in the right field seats where a group of students from Northwestern Junior High School of Somerville, Mass., were sitting.

Some of the kids autographed the ball in pencil and threw it to Piersall in the top of the fifth when hr took his position in right field. 

Piersall returned the favor by getting a team-autographed ball and tossing it to the boys when he took the field in the seventh inning.

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