Anthony John ("A.J.") Pierzynski attended Dr. Phillips High School from 1991 through 1994. As a Panther, A.J. epitomized toughness behind the plate. He was named All-State in his senior season (1994) after leading DP in hits with 39, a record that stood for 17 years, in addition to the school record for RBIs (36) he earned during his junior year. Pierzynski had college baseball options, most notably a scholarship offer from Tennessee, but Major League Baseball called his name in the third round of the 1994 draft and he signed with the Minnesota Twins.
One of only four DP graduates to make the Majors (Johnny Damon, Danny Miceli, Brian Barber), Pierzynski made his debut in 1998. In 2002, he was named to the American League All-Star team and belted a home run in the decisive game of the American League Division Series. A.J. soon became a household name.
In 2005, after a short stint with the San Francisco Giants, Pierzynski signed with the Chicago White Sox, where his personality and blue collar work ethic quickly endeared him to the Windy City faithful as he led the team to their first World Series title since 1917. One year later, A.J. was the top vote-getter on the All-Star ballot and he joined former DP graduate and teammate Johnny Damon on the American League squad; truly a memorable day for Dr. Phillips Baseball.
Pierzynski currently holds the American League record for consecutive errorless chances with 962, formerly set by Hall of Famer Yogi Berra back in 1959 and in 2008 he knocked in the 500th RBI of his career leading the White Sox to the AL Central Division Championship. In December, 2012, A.J. signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers and later with the Boston Red Sox (2013), St. Louis Cardinals (2014) and Atlanta Braves (2015). In addition, he has had several appearances on Fox Sports' Major League Baseball telecasts as a color commentator and analyst.
Despite his schedule during spring training, A. J. always finds a way to come back and support the school that launched his career by meeting with the coaches and players of Dr. Phillips in his free time and has remained true to the program that is most proud to call him their own. In 2006, A. J. Pierzynski was elected to the Dr. Phillips High School Athletic Hall of Fame.