A. J. Pierzynski
|A. J. Pierzynski|
|Boston Red Sox – No. 26|
December 30, 1976 |
Bridgehampton, New York
|Bats: Left||Throws: Right|
|September 9, 1998 for the Minnesota Twins|
(through 2013 season)
|Runs batted in||800|
|Career highlights and awards|
Anthony John (A. J.) Pierzynski (//; born December 30, 1976) is an American professional baseball catcher for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. Pierzynski has previously played for the Minnesota Twins (1998–2003), San Francisco Giants (2004), Chicago White Sox (2005–2012) and Texas Rangers (2013).
Pierzynski is known for having a strong and colorful personality, a fact he acknowledges. During his turn at the microphone following the White Sox victory parade in 2005, he thanked team personnel "for putting up with me." His Chicago manager, Ozzie Guillen, summed up the situation as, "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less." Guillen also acknowledged Pierzynski's value to the club, despite being relatively high-maintenance: "A.J.'s been great for me. He's worth the work because he always shows up for you."
Anthony John Pierzynski was born on December 30, 1976, in Bridgehampton, New York. He attended Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida, where he won All-State honors in baseball. Outfielder/designated hitter Johnny Damon was one of Pierzynski's high school teammates.
Pierzynski graduated from high school in 1994 and signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Tennessee. He was also selected by the Minnesota Twins in the third round (71st overall) of that year's MLB Draft and chose to sign with the ballclub on June 9. He began his minor league career with the Gulf Coast League Twins and spent the next four years playing for the minor-league Elizabethton Twins, Fort Wayne Wizards, Fort Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats, and Salt Lake Buzz.
After four years in the Twins organization, he was called up to the Major League team, and made his debut on September 9, 1998, when he was 21 years old. He then spent the next five seasons, through the 2003 season, with Minnesota, though he was not a regular starter until 2001. From 1998-2000, he appeared in just 49 games for the Twins. In 2002 he made the American League All-Star Team as a reserve catcher. In the 2002 American League Division Series, Pierzynski hit an important home run in the ninth inning of the final game, in which the Twins clinched the series. In 2003, Pierzynski reached a .312 batting average, a career high that still stands.
San Francisco Giants
After the 2003 season, the Twins traded Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser. With the Giants he hit .272 with 11 home runs and 77 RBIs. He spent one season in San Francisco before being non-tendered.
Chicago White Sox
Pierzynski was signed as a free agent by the Chicago White Sox on January 6, 2005. When he signed with the White Sox, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story claiming that the catcher had kneed Giants trainer Stan Conte in the groin during a spring training game in 2004. Although the incident allegedly happened during the game, it went completely unreported for nearly an entire year in the press. Pierzynski has disputed the allegations publicly. "Don't you think if something like that happened, in spring training, you would have heard about it? I would have gotten in some sort of trouble?" 
In 2006, Pierzynski was named one of the five American League players in the All-Star Final Vote. Soon afterwards the Chicago White Sox organization began an election campaign using the slogan "Punch A.J." Pierzynski received 3.6 million votes, the most votes in the American League, subsequently sending him to his second All-Star appearance.
The "Punch A.J." campaign was inspired by an incident on May 20, 2006 between Pierzynski and Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett. After a fly ball out, Pierzynski tagged up at 3rd and tried to score on the throw. After a collision at home, where Pierzynski knocked Barrett from his feet, Pierzynski slapped home plate with his hand. After getting up, Barrett grabbed Pierzynski and punched him in the face. A bench-clearing brawl ensued, and Pierzynski, Barrett, White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson and Cubs first baseman John Mabry were ejected.
Pierzynski caught Mark Buehrle's no-hitter on April 18, 2007, but not his perfect game on July 23, 2009. He caught Philip Humber's perfect game on April 21, 2012 against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, as well. On May 28, 2007, in a game versus the Minnesota Twins, Pierzynski twice ran down the first base line with his feet on the inside of the base, possibly nipping Twins first baseman Justin Morneau with his spikes. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was furious with the umpires, which resulted in a long tirade. However, he was not ejected. Pierzynski denied any attempt to step on Morneau.
Among active catchers with at least 600 games played, going into the 2010 season he was third with a .995 career fielding percentage, behind Mike Redmond (.996) and Joe Mauer (.995), and ahead of Brad Ausmus (.994).
On June 13, 2012, Pierzynski was rated the most hated player in Major League Baseball. In 2012, Pierzynski homered in 5 consecutive games, tying the franchise record and becoming the 6th player to achieve this feat. His teammate Paul Konerko was the most recent Sox player to achieve this feat in 2011. Pierzynski won a Silver Slugger Award at catcher, his first. He hit .278/.326/.501 in 135 games, all but 5 behind the plate, with 27 HR and 77 RBI.
Boston Red Sox
On December 8, 2005, A.J. Pierzynski appeared on TNA Impact!, a professional wrestling television program aired by the professional wrestling promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Accompanied by White Sox strength trainer Dale Torborg, Pierzynski presented TNA wrestlers A.J. Styles, Chris Sabin and Sonjay Dutt with memorabilia from the 2005 World Series. At the ceremony, an incident was staged to include Pierzynski in a controversy with the wrestlers. Pierzynski then made his professional wrestling managerial debut at TNA Turning Point 2005 on December 11, 2005, accompanying Torborg, Sabin and Dutt to ringside for their match against the Diamonds in the Rough.
On October 10, 2006, Pierzynski appeared on ESPN2's Cold Pizza, wearing the X-Division Championship belt, and challenged WWE Champion John Cena, who was also a guest that morning, to a Title vs. Title steel cage match whenever Cena wanted to have it. Cena responded asking if Pierzynski got his championship belt out of a gumball machine outside.
Pierzynski returned to TNA in January 2007, when he and Torborg confronted Lance Hoyt. At Against All Odds 2007 Pierzynszki was in Torborg's corner, when he was defeated by Hoyt, who had David Eckstein in his corner.
On the September 7, 2009 edition of WWE Raw, Pierzynski, for the first time ever appeared on WWE television replacing Chris Jericho in a game show called The Price is Raw while Bob Barker was hosting.
Pierzynski is currently married to Lisa Pierzynski. The couple have two children, Ava and Austin.
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- "A.J. Pierzynski," Player File, Biography, Chicago White Sox, official website. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
- Chris Berman during Game 1 of 2005 ALDS ESPN Telecast
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- "A.J. Pierzynski," Career stats, Chicago White Sox, official website. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
- "Giants give up Nathan in deal for catcher". ESPN.com.
- Jenkins, Bruce. "Ballplayers still getting their edge". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
- "Bottom line: A.J.'s a gamer". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
- "Cubs' Barrett slugs Pierzynski, leads to melee". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
- "Retrosheet Boxscore: Chicago White Sox 6, Texas Rangers 0". Retrosheet.org. 2007-04-18. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "Chicago White Sox vs. Seattle Mariners - Recap - April 21, 2012 - ESPN". Scores.espn.go.com. 2012-04-21. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "Twins upset about Pierzynski's play". mlb.com. Retrieved 2007-05-29.
- "White Sox, A.J. Pierzynski agree on two-year extension". MLB.com. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
- ""Dodgers sign Brad Ausmus to one-year contract; Three-time Rawlings Gold Glove catcher to return to Los Angeles for his 18th Major League season," MLB.com, January 26, 2010, accessed January 27, 2010". Losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "Pierzynski, White Sox renew partnership | whitesox.com: News". Chicago.whitesox.mlb.com. 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "Pierzynski re-signs with White Sox for 2 years". Sports.espn.go.com. 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "MLB.com Gameday | MLB.com: Gameday". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "Rangers, catcher A.J. Pierzynski officially agree to one-year, $7.5 million deal | texasrangers.com: News". Texas.rangers.mlb.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- Browne, Ian (December 3, 2013). "Pierzynski agrees to one-year deal with Red Sox". MLB.com. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- Twitter / Ken_Rosenthal: Pierzynski passed physical with #RedSox, one-year deal is official.
- "Most Popular E-mail Newsletter". USA Today. October 2, 2011.
- "Dale Torborg's profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-08-011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to A.J. Pierzynski.|
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- A. J. Pierzynski at the Internet Movie Database
- Dr. Phillips High School profile