Jack Pierce

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Lavern Jack Pierce

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Biographical Information[edit]

Regardless of what team Jack Pierce played for throughout his professional career, he awed pre-game spectators with his super power displays - which regularly carried over to the actual game. As of 1998, Pierce ranked 9th all-time in minor league home runs with 395. Despite his prodigious home run production in professional baseball, he tallied only eight at the major league level.

He hit 20 homers in the Carolina League in 1971 (tied for second, two behind league leader Charlie Spikes) in his second pro season, 23 homers in the 1972 Southern League (tied for third, 7 behind leader Mike Reinbach) and 14 in his first season at AAA with the 1973 Richmond Braves.

The next season he went to the Mexican League at a young age for an American prospect. That year he again was a home run runner-up, with 28, while he hit .306/~.431/.609. That earned him a return trip to the American minors. In 1975, he hit .280 with 9 homers for Evansville of the American Association and got his last and longest look in the majors, hitting 8 homers in 170 AB and slugging .424, but with a .235 average with the Detroit Tigers. A 106 OPS+ wasn't enough for the Tigers, who brought up Jason Thompson to take over first base in 1976.

Pierce returned to Mexico - he homered 36 times. No longer playing a Susan Lucci-esque second place in a homer race, Pierce had won the first of three homer crowns (beating out runner-up Curtis Moore by 8). He hit .331/~.410/.599 for Puebla in 1976 and also topped the Liga with 109 RBI.

Pierce continued to bounce from country to country, signing with the Nankai Hawks for the 1977 season. He hit .227/.302/.399 with 13 homers in 291 at-bats. Right before opening day the next year, the Hawks let Pierce go. He returned to his old haunts in Mexico, but struggled in his third trip to the Liga, hitting just .198 in 32 games.

Jack returned to form somewhat in 1980; while his average was low and he slugged under .500, he did hit a league-best 17 homers in the strike-shortened season, taking his second home run crown.

In 1984 the Mexican League began using the lively Commando ball and Pierce took advantage better than most - he raised his average 118 points to .364 with an OBP around .438 and a slugging of .659. He was second to Antonio Lora in RBI (117) and third in homers. A year later he cranked out 40 in his second season for the Leon Braves, with 104 runs and 118 RBI, slugging .620. He was third in RBI and second in homers, one behind league leader Andres Mora.

1986 saw Pierce set a Mexican League record with 54 home runs for the Braves. The old mark had been 46 by Hector Espino - in addition to Pierce, Nick Castaneda (53) and Willie Aikens (46) at least matched the old record. Pierce hit .381, scored 111, drove in 148, slugged .783 and had an OBP around .464. Pierce also spent some time as Leon's player-manager that year.

After slipping to .277/~.372/.516 with 24 homers in 1987, Pierce retired. As of 2000, his 294 homers in the Liga were 8th in league history, the best by a U.S. native. Pierce had hit .300 and slugged .553 in his 11 years in Mexico.

Pierce was elected to the Salon de la Fama in 2001. He scouted in Mexico for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox. He was employed as a coach by the Sultanes de Monterrey when he passed away from a heart attack at age 64 in 2012.

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