World Series Champion catcher A.J. Pierzynski, three-time Olympic medalist speed skater J.R. Celski, NFL Hall of Famer Bronko Nagurski, and all-star pitcher Mike Krukow have been elected into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame for 2020.
The 48th Annual Induction Banquet will be Thursday, June 18, 2020, at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, Michigan. Tickets for the banquet, which begins at 5:30pm., are $140 and can be ordered by calling (313) 407-3300. Information on the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame is available at www.polishsportshof.com.
A.J. Pierzynski was a major league catcher for 19 seasons (1998-2016) with the Twins, Giants, White Sox, Rangers, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Braves. The two-time All-Star (2002, 2006) was an integral part of the White Sox World Series Championship in 2005, their first championship in 88 years. Pierzynski holds the American League record for consecutive errorless chances with 962, and in 2012, he was awarded the Silver Slugger Award, given to the best offensive player at each position. One of only ten catchers in Major League history to reach 2,000 hits, Pierzynski batted .280 for his career, with 2,043 hits, 188 home runs and 909 RBI.
J.R. Celski was one of the top U.S. short track speed skaters of the last decade. He is a three-time Olympian (Vancouver, Sochi and PyeongChang) and three-time medalist in the Winter Olympics. In 2010, just five months after a skate blade completely severed one of his quad muscles, J.R. won two Olympic medals in Vancouver, winning bronze medals in the 1500m and the 5000m relay. In 2014, he won a silver medal in the 5000m relay. J.R. has won 11 World Championship medals (three gold medals), 26 World Cup medals, and set two world records including the 500 meters, in which he was the first person to break the 40 second barrier.
Bronko Nagurski was a standout football player at 6’ 2” and 226 pounds at the University of Minnesota from 1927-1929. Nagurski played defensive tackle in 1927, and both fullback and tackle in 1928 and 1929. In 1929 he was named All-America at both positions, the only person to this day ever to be named All-America at two positions in the same season. After his legendary career at Minnesota, he signed with the Chicago Bears, playing nine seasons at running back and linebacker (1930-1937, and 1943). Nagurski led the Bears to three NFL championships (1932, 1933 and 1943), and was named all-NFL five times. In 1951, Nagurski was elected to the inaugural class of the College Football Hall of Fame, and in 1963, he was elected into the inaugural class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Mike Krukow was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 8th round of the 1973 MLB Draft and went on to a 14 year major-league pitching career (1976-1989) with the Cubs, Phillies and Giants. He finished his career with a 124-117 record, with 1,478 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.90. His best season occurred in 1986, when he posted a record of 20-9, with a 3.05 ERA. He finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting that year, and was selected to the National League All-Star team. In 1987, Krukow helped lead the Giants to their first division championship in 16 years. After his playing career, Krukow turned to broadcasting and in 1994 became the full-time broadcaster for the Giants, earning seven Emmy Awards.