Fear Strikes Out

Fear Strikes Out is a 1957 American biographical sports drama film depicting the life and career of American baseball player Jimmy Piersall. It is based on Piersall's 1955 memoir Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story, co-written with Al Hirshberg. The film stars Anthony Perkins as Piersall and Karl Malden as his father, and it was the first directed by Robert Mulligan.

Fear Strikes Out
Directed byRobert Mulligan
Produced byAlan J. Pakula
Screenplay byTed Berkman
Raphael Blau
Based onFear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story
by Jimmy Piersall and Al Hirshberg
StarringAnthony Perkins
Karl Malden
Music byElmer Bernstein
CinematographyHaskell B. Boggs
Edited byAaron Stell
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 20, 1957 (1957-03-20)
Running time
100 min.
CountryUnited States

This film is a Paramount Picture and was preceded by a 1955 TV version starring Tab Hunter.[1]


Based on Piersall's shattering tell-all biography, the film traces Piersall's rise from the sandlots of Waterbury, Connecticut, to the Boston Red Sox professional baseball team. Karl Malden plays his domineering father who pushes him further and further.

Unable to withstand the pressure, Piersall suffers a nervous breakdown and goes to a mental institution. After a long period of therapy, Jimmy realizes that he has excelled in baseball to please his father — not for his own gratification.[1]


1955 TV Version

"Fear Strikes Out"
Climax! episode
Directed byHerbert B. Swope Jr.
Teleplay byMel Goldberg
Produced byMartin Manulis
Original air date1955
Guest appearance(s)

Tab Hunter as Jimmy Piersall

The film was based on the book by Piersall which had been adapted for TV in 1955 for the show Climax!.

Rights to the book were bought in July 1955.[2]

The New York Times called it "absorbing" and praised Tab Hunter's portrayal of Jimmy Piersall as "perceptive and believable."[3]

Hunter had a romantic relationship with Anthony Perkins. He says this relationship ended after Perkins took the role of Piersall in the film version.[4]

Awards and honors

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote:


  1. Erickson, Hal. Rovi "Fear Strikes Out" Synopsis
  2. Adams, Val (23 July 1955). "TV Scenic Artists Win Pay Increase: Three Major Networks and Union Agree on 3-Year Pact Retroactive to April 1". New York Times. p. 33. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  3. Shanley, J.P. (19 August 1955). "TV: 'Fear Strikes Out' – Outfielder's True Story Told on 'Climax!'". New York Times. p. 39. Retrieved August 28, 2018..
  4. Schulman, Michael (15 October 2015). "Tab Hunter's Secrets". New Yorker.
  5. "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2016-08-19.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. Crowther, Bosley (March 21, 1957). "True-Life Story of Jim Piersall; 'Fear Strikes Out' Has Debut at the State Ballplayer Overcame a Mental Illness". p. 37. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
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