Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Is monumental honor headed A.J.'s way?
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- A.J. Pierzynski might be gone now, but there is a good chance he one day will be as visible around U.S. Cellular Field as much any player that ever put on a Chicago White Sox uniform.
Sizing up the chances that Pierzynski one day receives a statue on the outfield concourse, the veteran could actually find himself frozen in time inside the ballpark. That honor would go along with his dominating presence in front of Gate 4 atop the 2005 World Series sculpture.
A high-ranking White Sox official, who was contacted about Pierzynski's chances of possibly receiving a statue, didn't say one is in the works at the moment, but didn't deny that it could eventually happen either.
In fact, Pierzynski, Mark Buehrle and Paul Konerko all stand a solid chance of receiving the honor that was last given to Frank Thomas in 2011. Another future candidate, especially since he has recently returned, is manager Robin Ventura. And don't count out the chances of Ozzie Guillen getting one too at some point in the future.
Current or former White Sox personnel who have statues are Charles Comiskey, Minnie Minoso, Carlton Fisk, Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox, Billy Pierce and Harold Baines.
Sizing up Pierzynski and his eight-year White Sox career against somebody like Thomas, who won two MVPs and played 16 seasons on the South Side, and perhaps the catcher doesn't measure up. But throw in Pierzynski's role on the 2005 World Series champs, and his participation in two White Sox teams that advanced to the postseason, and his statue resume becomes clearer.
Buehrle and Konerko seem to be on better footing when it comes to getting a statue, but Pierzynski can't be counted out, especially when considering the glowing words chairman Jerry Reinsdorf reserved for him when his new contract with the Texas Rangers became official.
"Every White Sox fan appreciates and celebrates what A.J. meant to this organization during his time in Chicago," Reinsdorf's December statement read. "A.J. epitomized Chicago's South Side through his toughness, his attitude, his flair for the dramatic and his passion for the game. He came to compete -- and to win -- every day.
"A.J. will forever be appreciated and remembered by White Sox fans as a very special member of this franchise. He earned that spot in our hearts. I personally wish A.J. the very best with the Rangers and with the rest of his career. I suspect U.S. Cellular Field will be one ballpark where A.J. Pierzynski will never be booed. He's earned our cheers."
If Reinsdorf had his way it sounds as if he would approve of a Pierzynski statue as soon as tomorrow. But alas, Pierzynski won't be bronzed for a while. At minimum, it seems as if retirement is the only official requirement when it comes to getting a statue.