Billy Pierce is a former left-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played most of his career for the Chicago White Sox. He was the team’s star pitcher between 1952 and 1961, and was named the American League’s top pitcher in 1956 and 1957 after being runner-up in both 1953 and 1955. A seven-time All-Star, he led the American League (AL) in complete games three times despite his slight build, and in wins, earned run average (ERA) and strikeouts once each. He pitched four one-hitters and seven two-hitters in his career, and on June 27, 1958 came within one batter of becoming the first left-hander in 78 years to throw a perfect game.
He was one of the principal figures in Chicago’s fierce rivalry with the New York Yankees; particularly notable were his matchups with Whitey Ford, with the two left-handers opposing one another as starters 14 times from 1955 to 1960. Pierce’s record suffered from pitching so much against New York – who he faced more often than any other team, when the Yankees dynasty was at its peak; although his career record against New York was only 25–37, that was still slightly better than the 27–41 mark compiled by National League (NL) championship teams over 11 World Series against the Yankees during the same period.
After joining the San Francisco Giants in 1962, Pierce played a pivotal role in helping them win the NL pennant, going 12–0 in home games and getting a three-hit shutout and a save in a three-game tie-breaker against the Los Angeles Dodgers to clinch the title. His 1,999 career strikeouts were the fifth most by a left-hander when he retired, and his AL total of 1,842 ranked ninth in league history. He also ranked tenth among left-handers in career wins (211), sixth in games started (432) and games pitched (585), eighth in shutouts (38) and ninth in innings pitched (3,306⅔). He holds the White Sox franchise record for career strikeouts (1,796), and his club marks of 186 wins, 2,931 innings and 390 starts are team records for a left-hander.