BOSTON — Former major leaguer Jimmy Piersall, who bared his soul about his struggles with mental illness in his book “Fear Strikes Out,” has died. He was 87.

Piersall died Saturday at a care facility in Wheaton, Illinois, after a months-long illness, according to the Boston Red Sox, for whom Piersall played for seven of his 17 seasons in the majors.

Piersall’s on-field antics when he first broke into the majors with the Red Sox full-time in 1952 cracked up fans and provided fodder for newspaper columnists. In one game against the St. Louis Browns, he made pig noises and mocked the odd throwing motion of aging Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige.

But Piersall also had furious arguments with umpires, broke down sobbing one day when told he wouldn’t play and got into a fistfight with the New York Yankees’ Billy Martin at Fenway Park, followed minutes later by a scuffle with a teammate.

“Almost everybody except the umpires and the Red Sox thought I was a riot,” Piersall said in the 1955 autobiography, later made into a movie starring Anthony Perkins and Karl Malden.

“My wife knew I was sick, yet she was helpless to stop my mad rush towards a mental collapse.”

He played 56 games in the majors before being admitted to a mental hospital with what was later diagnosed as bipolar disorder. He wrote in his book that he had almost no memory of the season or his time in the hospital. He returned to the majors in 1953 “sound and healthy” thanks to “shock treatments, faith, a wonderful wife, a fine doctor and loyal friends.”