The Time Cleveland Indians Outfielder Jimmy Piersall Beat Up a Yankees Fan During a Game

Steve DiMatteo Baseball Sports

Jimmy Piersall with JFK

After watching a Cincinnati Reds fan recently rush the field and get in Cleveland left fielder Tyler Freeman's face before ultimately being tased in one of the best sports photos of all time, I'm reminded of the restraint players often show to people interrupting games like that.

That being said, that restraint does sometimes go out the window, much like it did for Cleveland outfielder Jimmy Piersall on September 10, 1961 in Yankee Stadium.

In the first game of a doubleheader that day, two fans descended from the stands during the seventh inning to attack Piersall. Immediately, Piersall knocked down one of them with a punch, and, sensing perhaps his own fate, the other fan took off running. 

Typically, that would be the end of things, but Piersall took off after the fan, nearly landing a rough kick. The fan still didn't make it out of the situation cleanly, however, as Piersall's teammates Johnny Temple and Walt Bond got a few punches in themselves.

Piersall sure wasn't too bothered by the whole incident; he robbed Johnny Blanchard of a two-run homer with a great catch that inning and got an ovation from the New York fans.

Who Was Jimmy Piersall?

Piersall played in Cleveland for three seasons, spanning 1959 to 1961. He had a very serviceable slash line of .288/.336/.413 with 28 home runs, 51 doubles, 136 RBI, 32 stolen bases, and a 104 OPS+ across those three years.

He would play a total of 17 seasons in MLB (playing for the Red Sox, Indians, Senators, Mets, and Angels), and it was a career that would become littered with ejections and violent altercations with fans, teammates, and, unfortunately, even teammates' kids.

Piersall is perhaps best-known for his public battle with bipolar disorder, chronicled in his 1955 book Fear Strikes Out, which also became a movie in 1957. Controversy would follow Piersall after his playing days, fired at one point as the White Sox broadcaster following his "excessive" criticism of the team.

Piersall was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2010. He also found his way to the White House a couple times, meeting John F. Kennedy in 1962 and being part of a ceremony honoring the 2004 World Series team in 2005.


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