With A.J. Pierzynski heading to Texas, CSN Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka put together his personal top nine moments from his eight years on the South Side.
Sept. 20, 2005: Pierzynski stomps Aaron Boone
With the Sox lead down to 2 12 games in the Central race, there was an air of urgency at U.S. Cellular Field. Cleveland was up 5-3 entering the bottom of the 7th, but Pierzynski had something to say about that.
First Pierzynski doubled home Carl Everett. Next he made his way to third as Paul Konerko scored on an Aaron Rowand sac fly. But an errant throw from first baseman Jose Hernandez sent third baseman Aaron Boone diving to the dirt and Pierzynski stomped him as he lie in his path before scoring the go-ahead run.
A shot of the stomp showed A.J. with his eyes fixed on his victim. Hawk Harrelson chuckled. So did I.
Oct. 4, 2005: A pair of homers in postseason opener
The White Sox dominated in the 2005 regular season, but they also dominated in 2000. So the 2000 ALDS disappointment against the Mariners was fresh in my mind. And they drew the defending champion Red Sox. And then Game 1 of the 2005 ALDS happened.
BoSox starter Matt Clement was lit up to the tune of 8 earned runs in 3 13 IP, and Pierzynski clouted two homers and knocked in four. It was the second multi-HR game in franchise postseason history (after Ted Kluszewski in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series) and Chicago's Sox won in a 14-2 laugher.
Oct. 12, 2005: Pierzynski steals first base
Run first, ask questions later. A.J. did. Angels catcher Josh Paul thought the Sox receiver was the victim of an inning-ending strikeout against Kelvim Escobar, and technically he was. But Pierzynski ran to first and home-plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled that Paul didn't catch it cleanly. Pablo Ozuna entered as a pinch runner and scored on a Joe Crede walk-off double.
Instead of heading into extra innings, facing perhaps an 0-2 hole in the ALCS, they evened the series and won the next three games. And Angels fans haven't forgotten. Unfortunately, they'll be seeing more of Pierzynski than ever in 2013.
May 20, 2006: The punch
After Jermaine Dye grounded out to start the bottom of the second, Cubs starter Rich Hill walked Pierzynski, Crede and Juan Uribe consecutively. When Pierzynski scored on a Brian Anderson sacrifice fly, he emphatically slapped home plate after barreling over Cubs receiver Michael Barrett.
Of course, then Barrett clocked A.J. in the face and the next thing you know, Brian Anderson was throwing down with John Mabry. This eventually led to the White Sox' clever "Punch A.J." campaign for a 2006 All-Star roster spot (which he won).
The dropped third strike and the punch were arguably Pierzynski's two signature games. He went a combined 0-3 with 2 strikeouts, 2 walks and a run in those two games combined.
May 21, 2006: Pierzynski Shows up Big Z
The day after "The Punch," the Sox (wearing 1906 throwbacks) & Cubs met again at US Cellular Field. In the fourth inning, Pierzynski took Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano deep to tie the game at two. After crossing home plate, Pierzynski, ever the instigator, pointed skyward, just like Zambrano does after an inning-ending out. Big Z had to be restrained, and the crowd was abuzz. However, Zambrano & the Cubs emerged 7-4 victors after a bullpen letdown.
July 1, 2006: Redemption at Wrigley
A third SoxCubs moment from 2006. The rivalry was as heated as ever mainly from the intense May series, despite a miserable season on the Northside (while the White Sox were on their way to a second consecutive 90 win season). The Sox trailed 6-5 entering the 9th inning, and Cubs closer Ryan Dempster came in to try to nail down the save.
Dempster got two quick outs on a Scott Podsednik flyout and a Tadahito Iguchi groundout, but Ross Gload singled and Dye walked to set the stage. Pierzynski crushed a 1-1 pitch to right to give the Southsiders an 8-6 lead, which Bobby Jenks preserved with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Related: Flowers ready to earn his role
Aug. 24, 2008: Quick thinking on the basepaths
In the bottom of the 10th inning against the Rays, Pierzynski singled and advanced to second on a Carlos Quentin flyout. When Dye hit into a fielder's choice to shortstop Jason Bartlett, Pierzynski was caught in a rundown and appeared to be in trouble. When it seemed the Sox were destined to blow a good scoring chance, he initiated contact with third baseman Willy Aybar after Aybar made a throw back to second.
Umpire Doug Eddings (him again) ruled obstruction and awarded Pierzynski third base, which created a first and third situation. After a Jim Thome intentional walk to load the bases, Alexei Ramirez singled Pierzynski home with the winning run.
July 4, 2011: The balk-off
Pierzynski came on to pinch hit in the 9th following a blown save by Sergio Santos. A single, a sacrifice, and a wild offering by Aaron Crow put Pierzynski on third with one out. Mark Teahen went down on strikes for the second out which left it up to Adam Dunn (whose homer gave the Sox a 4-3 lead in the 8th). Or did it?
On a 1-0 count, home plate umpire Ed Rapuano signaled Pierzynski home. Who else would score on a game-ending balk? Cue the fireworks.
March 23, 2012: Spring speed
Yeah, it was Cactus League action, but who could forget Pierzynski's inside-the-park blast off Diamondbacks reliever Brett Lorin. The ball hit slightly to the left of the 410 mark in center and ended up about 10-20 feet from the right field line. Hawk and Steve Stone called for an oxygen mask.
Honorable Mention: August 3, 2012
Pierzynski shoved a pie in our former colleague Sarah Kustok's face on her last day at CSN (during a postgame interview with Alex Rios).