Based on Piersall's shattering tell-all biography, the film traces Jimmy's ascent from the sandlots of Waterbury, Connecticut, to the Boston Red Sox, with his domineering father (Karl Malden) pushing the boy beyond all reasonable limits. Unable to withstand the pressure, Piersall suffers a nervous breakdown and is confined to a mental institution. Through a long period of therapy, Jimmy realizes that he has excelled in baseball not for his own gratification but to please his father. This film was preceded by a 1956 TV version starring Tab Hunter.
Bosley Crowther of the New York Times said: "Oddly enough, the scenes of baseball, while interesting in this account, are secondary to the scenes of drama between the father and his son. The issues are not whether Piersall will snag those long flies or clout home runs but whether he will have the approval of his old man, sitting there in the stands. The weight of the paternal ambition is the critical factor in this film. And it is felt by the nerve-racked observer to the point where it is recognizable that the young man must go mad. ... Fortunately, Mr. Perkins plays the young fellow excellently, not only conveying the gathering torment but also actually looking like a ballplayer on the field. And Karl Malden is compelling as the father, combining the ignorant dominance of a bitter man with the occasional tenderness of a parent who genuinely loves his only son. ...Robert Mulligan's direction is vigorous..."