Dear Babe: I have an autographed photo from Jimmy Piersall. It is a black and white 8-by-10 photo, showing him in a Cleveland Indians uniform.
—Donna Wilson, Oberlin, Ohio.
While many consider Piersall one of the all-time oddballs in major league baseball history, he was also a victim of bipolar disorder, which affected him early in his career when most fans didn’t understand the seriousness of his illness.
“Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was going nuts,” he once said. “Whoever heard of Jimmy Piersall until that happened?”
Early in his career in 1952, Piersall ended up in the Westborough State Hospital in Massachusetts diagnosed with “nervous exhaustion.” In fact, he suffered from bipolar disorder.
He returned to the majors in 1953 and authored an autobiography, “Fear Strikes Out,” which was made into a movie by the same name in 1957, starring Anthony Perkins and Karl Malden.
He ended up with a 17-year career in the majors, playing for the Red Sox, Indians, Senators, Mets and Angels.
His career batting average was a respectable .272.
He was a two-time All-Star and finished ninth in the MVP voting in 1953 — the year he returned after the breakdown.
As for the picture, it looks like you’ve got a 1961 Cleveland team-issued photo. Beckett’s Almanac of Baseball Cards lists it at $4, making it the most valuable in the set. Yours has two signatures on it — the preprinted facsimile signature and an actual autograph.
Unfortunately, it looks as if the photo has seen better days.
Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com), said an 8-by-10 signed photo of Piersall from his Cleveland days might be worth $15. That’s going to be a stretch for your photo.
Piersall, who will be 84 years old in November, has been in the spotlight for decades and has been signing over all that time. There’s no shortage of his autograph, so it will be tough to sell an item in poor condition, especially a photo.
o o o
BABE NOTE: It will be interesting to see how collectors respond to the top picks in 2013 NFL draft. Collectors love quarterbacks and offensive skill position players. They were ecstatic in 2012 with all the rookie quarterbacks, who made an impact. The first round of this year’s draft was pretty much devoid of them.
E.J. Manuel was the only quarterback to go in the first round, being picked 16th by the Buffalo Bills. Only three wide receivers and one tight end went off the board in the first 32 picks. Every other player picked was either an offensive lineman or played defense.