So long, A.J.! Thanks for eight great seasons. You will be missed on Chicago’s South Side!

Well, the news arrived today…. One of my all-time favorite White Sox players, A.J. Pierzynski, signed a one-year, 7.5M contract to don the” tools of ignorance” for the Texas Rangers (pending passing his physical), thus ending a very fun (especially for me) and exciting 8 year run on Chicago’s South Side.

AUGUST 29- A.J. Pierzynski strikes his best “why me pose” during a photo shoot at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, IL on August 29, 2006. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Paul Konerko now stands as the sole “surviving member” of the 2005 World Series championship team currently on the White Sox 40-man roster.  Could it already be nearly eight years since the White Sox brought home baseball’s championship trophy to shine forever at 35th and Shields? My how time flies by!

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 26:  The Chicago White Sox celebrate winning Game 4 of the 2005 World Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois.  The White Sox defeated the Astros 1-0 to sweep the Astros and give the White Sox their first World Championship title in 88 years. (Ron Vesely)

HOUSTON – OCTOBER 26: A.J. Pierzynski, Bobby Jenks and other members of the Chicago White Sox celebrate winning Game 4 of the 2005 World Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Astros 1-0 to sweep the Astros and give the White Sox their first World Championship title in 88 years. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

If the moment was crucial, A.J. was there. I’ve  put together a few my favorite A.J. “moments” as a parting salute to the former Pale Hose affectionately known as “Dennis the Menace”.

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 12:   AJ Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox strikes out but advances to first base after home plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled that Josh Paul trapped the ball and failed to tag Pierzynski in the 9th inning during Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem at U.S. Cellular Field on October 12, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois.   The White Sox defeated the Angels 2-1. (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – OCTOBER 12: AJ Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox strikes out but advances to first base after home plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled that Josh Paul trapped the ball and failed to tag Pierzynski in the 9th inning during Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at U.S. Cellular Field on October 12, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Angels 2-1. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

I will be forever indebted to A.J. (and most likely might not possess my beautiful 2005 World Series ring) without A.J.’s heady play during Game Two of the ALCS against the Angels.

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 12:   AJ Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox strikes out but advances to first base after home plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled that Josh Paul trapped the ball and failed to tag Pierzynski in the 9th inning during Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem at U.S. Cellular Field on October 12, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois.   The White Sox defeated the Angels 2-1. (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – OCTOBER 12: AJ Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox strikes out but advances to first base after home plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled that Josh Paul trapped the ball and failed to tag Pierzynski in the 9th inning during Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at U.S. Cellular Field on October 12, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Angels 2-1. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

If you’re an Angel fan, I don’t need to remind you what transpired, but for those who would like a recap… A.J. reached first base safely after swinging and missing for strike three on a ball in the dirt that Angels catcher Josh Paul was ruled to have not caught cleanly, allowing Pierzynski to reach first base safely.  Pierzynski eventually scored and the White Sox ended up coming back to defeat the Angels and eventually travel to Anaheim to capture their first American League Championship title since 1959. A week or so later, the White Sox became the 2005 World Series Champions!  A.J.’s heads up play ranks as one of my all-time favorites!

A.J. Pierzynski, Aaron Rowand and Joe Crede, aka “The Three Stooges”, pose with the World Series trophy following Game Four of the 2005 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2005. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

The White Sox/Cubs rivalry is hard to beat, and probably the most memorable moment between the Windy City rivals took place at U.S. Cellular field during May of 2006 when A.J. slammed into Cubs backstop Michael Barrett, prompting Barrett to retaliate by punching A.J. by surprise, thus setting off a wild bench clearing brawl.

A.J. Pierzynski of the Chicago White Sox collides with Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett, setting off a bench clearing brawl during the game between the White Sox and Cubs on May 20, 2006 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, IL (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos)

A.J. not only could give a lickin’, but often took one in return, perhaps no more important than when he held his ground and prevented the Twins Michael Cuddyer from scoring during the one-game winner take all tiebreaker game at U.S. Cellular Field in 2008.

CHICAGO – SEPTEMBER 30: Michael Cuddyer #5 of the Minnesota Twins slams into catcher A.J. Pierzynski #12 in the 5th inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois on September 30, 2008. Pierzynski held onto the ball to record the third out of the inning. The White Sox defeated the Twins 1-0 to win the American League Central title. The Sox and Twins had to play a one game playoff to determine the American League Central Champion. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – SEPTEMBER 30: A.J. Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after hanging onto the ball after Michael Cuddyer #5 slammed into Pierzynski while attempting to score in the 5th inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois on September 30, 2008. The White Sox defeated the Twins 1-0 to win the American League Central title. The Sox and Twins had to play a one game playoff to determine the American League Central Champion. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Offensively, Pierzynski had a career year last season, leading to his reaping the fruits of his accomplishments by signing his deal with the Rangers.  A.J. hit many big home runs for the Sox during his tenure on the South Side.

CHICAGO – OCTOBER 15: AJ Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox hits a solo home run in the fourth inning during Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angels Stadium on October 15, 2005 in Anaheim, California. The White Sox defeated the Angels 8-2.  (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Win or loose, good days and bad, I liked the way A.J. wore his intensity on his sleeve.  No one wants to win more than A.J., which is one of the many reasons why he’s a member of my “All-Time Favorite’s” team!

CHICAGO – SEPTEMBER 30: A.J. Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox watches the final innings of the 2007 season wind down during the game against the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois on September 30, 2007. The Tigers defeated the White Sox 13-3. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

So long and best of luck to you. I’m sure we’ll cross paths soon, but until we do, remember one thing… Don’t ever change!

CHICAGO – AUGUST 05: A.J. Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after nearly being hit by a pitch during the game against the Los Angeles Angels on August 5, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 26: A.J. Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox wears 70’s style clothing after the game against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, August 26, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos)

 

 

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