A history of mental illness in baseball

From SABR member Stacey Gotsulias at Baseball Past and Present on April 18, 2012:

In the five years since my diagnosis, the stigma of having a mental illness has lessened a bit, though there are some people who are quick to dismiss it. They act as if the disorder– whatever it may be– is something only in our heads or that it’s something we can just fix ourselves. Believe me, I wish it were that simple. I would love nothing more than to wake up one morning and declare that I no longer have bipolar disorder. Most people who suffer from mental illness would rather be normal, whatever that is. Sadly, that is not a reality.


The sport of baseball has seen its share of players who have suffered from various types of mental illnesses. In recent years, stars Dontrelle Willis and Zack Greinke have had well documented struggles with social anxiety disorder. In 2009, when Willis was diagnosed people were pretty callous, joking that his anxiety was because of his high ERA. Willis also didn’t help himself when he returned to Spring Training the following year saying he wasn’t seeking help for his disorder nor taking medication. Willis said that it was in God’s hands.

Two-time All Star Jimmy Piersall struggled with bipolar disorder, known during his career as manic depression. Piersall got into fights with opposing players– a famous brawl occurred in 1952 when he goaded Billy Martin of the New York Yankees into a fight– as well as fans and teammates.

Read the full article here: http://baseballpastandpresent.com/2012/04/18/manicball-history-mental-illness-baseball-2/

Originally published: April 18, 2012. Last Updated: April 18, 2012.