CHICAGO -- Once Mike Napoli returned to the Boston Red Sox, A.J. Pierzynski understood his familiar jersey No. 12 was not going to be a possibility with his new team. So Pierzynski decided to honor White Sox play-by-play television announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, who Pierzynski has known since his high school days in Florida and who wore No. 40 during his days in Boston.
"I was kind of half joking with [Paul] Konerko and [White Sox director of media relations Bob] Beghtol and a couple of other guys over here, they were like, 'You can do what your dad did and be his number,'" Pierzynski said. "And I thought, 'You know that's not a bad idea.' So I texted Hawk and asked him what number he was, and he said 40. So I just went with it."
Pierzynski received a nice tribute from the White Sox upon his return to U.S. Cellular Field with the Rangers last season, after serving as the team's catcher from 2005-12 and winning a World Series in his first season. The team has changed for Pierzynski on this visit, but the memories remain just as vivid.
"Fans were always awesome to me here. I always have good memories as soon as I walk downtown in the city and see people that I know," said Pierzynski's, whose son and daughter were both born during his time in Chicago. "I walk in the stadium and it's not just the players and the coaches. It's the behind the scenes people, the security guards and the cooks and the guys who work on the plumbing that you get to know over the years from them being around.
"Those are the big things and the fun parts coming back here and seeing those people. I keep in touch with a lot of those guys. So it's nice to be able to see them or have lunch or grab a beer with them after a game."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.