Catcher Pierzynski reaches 2,000 career hits

39-year-old 9th player to achieve milestone while primarily serving as backstop

April 27th, 2016

BOSTON -- Before the Braves' 9-4 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, A.J. Pierzynski said he was looking forward to getting his next hit -- so he could stop answering questions about it.

Pierzynski, in his 19th season, had been on the doorstep of his 2,000th career hit since going 3-for-4 on Friday against the Mets.

In his first at-bat in the second inning on Wednesday vs. Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright -- whom Pierzynski had never faced before -- with one out and Freddie Freeman on second base, the catcher lined a single to left field for the milestone hit.

"Well, I've been on the verge of it for a few days now," Pierzynski said before the game. "I guess it means I've been around for a long time. It's kind of a cool milestone, especially for a catcher. That's kind of the one that if you get to is special because no one obviously will ever get to 3,000 because of the position. But it's cool. You look at the names and the people that are there, just to be lumped in with those guys is pretty awesome."

Pierzynski, 39, is the ninth player to reach 2,000 hits while primarily serving as a catcher. Ivan Rodriguez leads the group with 2,844 hits. Johnny Bench, who has 2,048 hits, is one of five Hall of Famers in the group, with Carlton Fisk (2,356), Yogi Berra (2,150), Mike Piazza (2,127) and Gary Carter (2,092).

Pierzynski and Berra are the only left-handed-hitting catchers in that group of nine.

"I'm definitely probably the least person on that list," Pierzynski said. "Bench, Fisk and Berra, those guys are all in the Hall of Fame. Then you have me. So it's kind of funny that I'm lumped in there somehow."

Before the game, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said it would be fitting for Pierzynski to record the hit at Fenway, not simply because he played for the Red Sox -- one of seven teams he's played for -- but because the milestone hit would come in baseball's oldest ballpark.

"I think the people in Boston would recognize [the milestone] and at least give him a little ovation," Gonzalez said. "I think baseball fans realize how difficult it is or what a great milestone it is to get 2,000 hits, especially in the catcher position."

The Fenway fans did give Pierzynski a warm ovation -- but he would have preferred getting the hit at home. His family had been at the recent games at Turner Field but returned home to Florida. When a clubhouse visitor pointed out that it was likely guaranteed he would get the hit tonight, Pierzynski replied:

"Eventually, I hope I will. I don't know when it will be, but hopefully, eventually."