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The free-spirited Juan Pizarro [center] pitched one of the greatest games of his storied career on this day, 66 years ago.
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Today in White Sox History: February 8

A southpaw’s ascending stardom

Brett Ballantini started at South Side Sox in 2018 after 20 years of writing on basketball, baseball and hockey, including time on the Blackhawks and White Sox beats. Follow him on Twitter @BrettBallantini and email your site feedback to


Future White Sox hurling star Juan Pizarro set a record by recording 17 strikeouts in the Caribbean Series opener.

The game was a culmination of Pizarro’s greatest Puerto Rican Winter League season, winning the PRWL MVP as he became the second of now-four pitchers to win its pitching Triple Crown: 14-5 with a 1.32 ERA, 183 Ks and 94 hits in 170⅓ innings. Pizarro set two regular season marks as well: Topping Satchel Paige’s record by striking out 19 batters in a game against the Ponce Leones, and tossing nine shutouts on the season. And just two starts after his 19-strikeout game, Pizarro no-hit the Mayagüez Indios. Pizarro’s Criollos de Caguas went on to represent Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series, and in their series opener on this day the southpaw tossed a two-hitter to go along with 17 Ks in an 8-0 win over Panama’s Carta Vieja Yankees.

Two seasons later, Bill Veeck maneuvered a three-way deal with Pizarro’s Milwaukee and the Cincinnati Reds to acquire Pizarro for the White Sox. “Terín” blossomed into a star, winning 61 games over his first four seasons in Chicago and putting up 3.05 ERA and 12.9 WAR in his White Sox career.

Combining the majors, Mexican League and Puerto Rican Winter League, Pizarro won 392 regular season games in his career. He remains the 36th-best pitcher in White Sox history.

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