When he came back to U.S. Cellular Field with the Rangers last season, A.J. Pierzynski looked into the future and said he'd like a job in the White Sox' TV broadcast booth when his father figure -- Ken "Hawk" Harrelson -- retired.
Pierzynski was joking, or so it seemed.
And even though his contract is up after the 2015 season, the 72-year-old Harrelson has been calling Sox games for 30 years and he's often expressed a desire to "die in the booth." Odds are, Harrelson has at least one more multiyear deal in him.
A future Hawk-Pierzynski pairing would be enticing to many White Sox fans, but Harrelson sees much bigger things for Pierzynski, an immensely popular catcher with the Sox from 2005-12.
"I think he's going to be the greatest analyst this game has ever seen," Harrelson said.
Now 37 and playing for the Red Sox after one season in Texas, Pierzynski has been a playoffs analyst with FOX the past four years.
"I've liked doing it," he said when Boston was in town to play the White Sox last week at U.S. Cellular Field. "It's something that's fun; it's something that I enjoy doing. But as far as long-term, I'm not sure what I'm going to do."
Even though he's nearing the end of a successful, controversial career, Pierzynski has managed to stay healthy playing a position that takes a huge physical toll. And he's still productive.
Maybe he'll be like Carlton Fisk and play until he's 45.
"Who knows?" Pierzynski said. "I'd like to (keep playing), but I have a one-year contract."
When his playing days do end, Pierzynski is likely to head back home to Orlando, Fla., and spend quality time with his wife and two children before rushing back into baseball.
"What I'm going to do in the future, I haven't gotten to that point yet," Pierzynski said. "I have two fairly young kids. I've been gone from home for a really long time, so it would have to be the right situation. The circumstances would have to be right. I wouldn't want to run right back in and jump into broadcasting for a team. That's 162 games a year and I'd have to travel and do all that stuff. That's kind of not something I would be into, but we'll see. We'll see what kind of opportunities arise."
If Pierzynski does find his way back to the TV booth after retiring, Harrelson sees him broadcasting at the national level.
"He looks at the game differently," Harrelson said. "And he's got (bleeps); he doesn't care who he upsets. His style would be very difficult to do on a local basis where you're going to do 155 games or so for a local team. But on a national basis, where you're only doing one a week or whatever it may be, I think he's going to be great."
Harrelson said Pierzynski's intelligence would separate him from other analysts.
"He's a different guy," Harrelson said. "People don't understand how smart A.J. is. He aced his SATs. All that IQ is is the ability to retain. That's what is, and he retains everything. So his IQ is off the charts. He understands the game. He can slice and dice the game as well as anybody.
"I see him on the national scene. First of all, he'd make a lot more money. I've watched him on TV during the playoffs and he's just awesome. He comes up with stuff that other people don't see."
If the White Sox do take a run at hiring Pierzynski for a broadcast job in the future, the odds seem slim he'd accept.
Another potential strike is Pierzynski wanted to keep playing with the Sox after the 2012 season but wasn't offered a contract. Is that a deal breaker?
"Obviously, people know how I feel about this place," Pierzynski said. "I wanted to stay here and it didn't work out, but I wouldn't say it was a bad exit. Unless you're Paul (Konerko) and they just give you carte blanche like they do with him -- which is great, he deserves it -- I don't think leaving a team is ever going to be the way you want. But obviously, the White Sox are special. It just depends on what opportunities are out there."
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