Walter William (Billy) Pierce (born April 2, 1927 in Detroit, Michigan) is a former starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. From 1945 through 1964, Pierce played for the Detroit Tigers (1945, 1948), Chicago White Sox (1949-61) and San Francisco Giants (1962-64). A diminutive left handed listed at 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), 160 pounds (73 kg), Pierce has been considered one of the greatest pitchers in Chicago White Sox history.
Billy Pierce ranked among the best of his era. Having never thrown a pitch in the minor leagues, Pierce made his majors debut with the Detroit Tigers in 1945, just a few weeks after his 18th birthday. He was traded to the White Sox before the 1949 season for catcher Aaron Robinson in what most baseball historians consider to be one of the most one-sided trades in baseball history.
In 13 seasons with the White Sox, Pierce threw four one-hitters; pitched 51 consecutive scoreless innings and led the league in shutouts (7) and in strikeouts (186) in 1953; led the league in ERA (1.97) and in wins (20, along with Jim Bunning) in 1955; tied for the league lead in complete games between 1956 and 1958, and was selected for seven All-Star games.
Pierce had an excellent curve and a devastating change that he combined with an average fastball. He finished his career with the San Francisco Giants, winning 16 games with the 1962 Giants' pennant winners, and pitching a three-hit shutout against the Yankees in Game Six of the 1962 World Series.
In an 18-season career, Pierce posted a 211-169 record with 1,999 strikeouts and a 3.27 ERA in 3,336.2 innings. In addition, he completed 193 games with 38 shutouts and 32 saves in 585 games pitched (432 as a starter). His 186 career victories with the White Sox rank fourth on the club's all-time list, behind Hall of Famers Ted Lyons, Red Faber and Ed Walsh. The White Sox retired his number 19 in 1987; he is one of only eight players so honored. He was named to the Sox Team of the Century (2000).
Pierce has been overlooked for Hall of Fame honors, even though his considerable credentials are comparable to many of the pitchers enshrined in Cooperstown.
Currently, at 78, Pierce is a member of the White Sox community relations department, making frequent public appearances in the Chicago area. In addition, he heads the not-for-profit Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities.
- 7-time All-Star (1953, 1955-59, 1961)
- Twice Top 10 American League MVP (10, 1953; 5, 1956)
- Top 10 MLB Cy Young Award (3, 1962)
- Led league in wins (20, 1957)
- Led league in ERA (1.97, 1955)
- Led league in strikeouts (186, 1953)
- 8-time won 15 or more games
- Won his personal duels against Yankee Whitey Ford (8-6) and Indian Bob Lemon (7-2)
- Threw one-hit shutout against the Yankees in a rain-delayed game (June 15, 1950)
- Threw one-hit shutout against the St. Louis Browns. Bobby Young's double in the 7th inning is the only Browns safety (April 16, 1953)
- Retired 26 Washington Senators in a row before pinch-hitter Ed Fitz Gerald hit a double to become the only opponent base runner (June 27, 1958)
- Currently tied at #84 on the all-time win leaderboard
Inside the numbersEdit
Comparison between Billy Pierce and the others 65 pitchers in the Hall of Fame:
- 45th in wins (211), just behind Chief Bender (212) and ahead of Jesse Haines (210), Don Drysdale (209), Hal Newhouser (207) and Bob Lemon (207).
- 41st in innings pitched (3,306.2), tied with Rube Marquard.
- 28th in strikeouts (1,999), ahead of Red Ruffing (1,987), John Clarkson (1,978) and Whitey Ford (1,956)
|American League ERA Champion|