Speed at the top: Juan Pierre
Juan Pierre, a Turks outfielder in 1998, has now become a World Series champion. Pierre, a Mobile, Alabama native was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 1998 and made his major league debut in 2000. Upon entering the majors Pierre hit in 16 straight games, the longest stretch of any player first entering the majors. In 2001 Pierre competed in his first full major league season as a centerfielder and leadoff hitter for the Rockies. During the season he led the team in stolen bases, with 46, becoming only the second player in team history to steal more than 40 bases. The 46 stolen bases tied him for the National League in steals and placed him third in the majors. Pierre’s 2001 batting average was .327, seventh in the majors. In 2002 with the Rockies, Pierre stole 47 bases and committed only two fielding errors all season allowing him to attain a .995 fielding percentage, the fifth best in the majors.
In 2003 Pierre completed his first season with the Florida Marlins, aiding the team on their way to the World Series title. Pierre bested his career record by stealing 65 bases during the season enough to lead not only his team but also the National League. Pierre was clocked reaching first in as few as 3.6 seconds and became known for his finesse with bunting, helping him finish third in the National League in hits. As a result of Pierre’s offensive and defensive contributions to the World Series Champion Marlins and for the enthusiasm Pierre brings to the playing field he was tenth in the 2003 season’s National League MVP balloting and was voted team MVP by Florida sports writers.
Juan Pierre made a big impression in Harrisonburg the summer of 1998 both on the field and off. On the field he amazed the fans with his speed on the bases and in the field chasing down fly balls. It was very obvious to Turks fans that Juan not only played the game with his baseball skills but with that big heart of his. He was a player driven with an overwhelming desire to be the best that he could be. He wasn’t afraid to put in the hours of practice and extra work that was needed to get better. Playing games six out of seven nights a week, plus holding down a job at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel, Pierre still found time to work on his arm strength by throwing long toss by himself before the other players arrived for early batting practice.
Juan flew to Harrisonburg that summer and didn’t have a vehicle to get to work so he borrowed a bicycle. A lot of players would have been upset that their only mode of transportation was bicycle but Juan looked at the experience as another opportunity to improve his game. He used the bike riding as part of his workout routine. His supervisor at the Sheraton said that Juan rode that bike to work and would be sitting on the curb eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 7:30 in the morning waiting for everyone else to get to work. The Sheraton said Juan had the best work ethic of any employee they’d ever had work there.
It’s that hard work ethic and heart full of love for the game of baseball that has driven Juan to reach his goals. The Harrisonburg Turks and all of their fans, Juan’s fans, applaud him for all of his achievements. We congratulate Juan and the Florida Marlins on their World Series Championship. Juan Pierre will always have the admiration and best wishes for a long and successful baseball career from his fans in Harrisonburg.