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"I threw hard. I struck out 21 batters in a game against a Yankees team in Independence, Missouri. I had eight one-hitters in the minor leagues." (Bill Pierro in the Oldtyme Baseball News)
William Leonard Pierro (b. April 15, 1926 in Brooklyn, NY – d. April 1, 2006 in Brooklyn, NY), nicknamed "Wild Bill", was a pitcher in Major League Baseball. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates
At best his birth date is an approximation because the child had been discovered abandoned behind a Long Island bar when he about six weeks old. Police rushed him to the humble 16th precinct home of apron salesman and Italian immigrant Saverio “Daniel” Pierro and his wife Mary. The elderly couple was known to authorities for boarding children in coordination with the Catholic charity’s Angel Guardian Home.
Apparently the birth family was eventually discovered: in the 1930 US Federal Census the then four-year-old appears in the Pierro home under the surname “Stoner.” But the Pierros were really the only family he knew. At six the Pierros formally adopted him, and he grew up among two older girls.
Pierro was just 16 when he lied about his age and joined the Marines during World War II in 1942. On August 31, 1943, in the middle of World War II, Pierro visited New York City’s Church Street military recruiting offices where he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. “I wanted to be a hero,” he later explained. Deployed both stateside and overseas in the Pacific, His enlistment overlapped the war and he was released from the service on June 3, 1946.
He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent before the 1947 season. Bill went 8-9 with a 4.30 ERA as a 21-year-old with the Bartlesville Oilers of the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League. In 1948 Pierro was still with Bartlesville and the right-hander won 17 times and lost only 8 while compiling a 2.15 ERA, pitching 230 innings and leading the KOM League in strikeouts with an almost unbelievable 300 K's. He also made the All-Star team.
IN 1949 Pierro was with the Waco Pirates of the class B Big State League, where three pitchers won 20 games and none of them was Bill. He did win 18 and lose 11 with a 2.96 ERA and again went well over 200 innings pitched with 255. Bill made the All-Star team again and had the big heat going also, fanning 275 batters that season. It's easy to see why he was one of the Pirates' showcase minor leaguers.
Hard throwing Pierro got the call to the major leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 1950 season. The curve balls of life kept Bill from ever returning to the big leagues again. Pierro was 8-3 with a 2.60 ERA when the Pirates brought him up from Indianapolis on July 17, 1950.
Pierro was a skinny ex-marine who threw a wicked side-arm curve, he'd as soon as hit you as not. No one dug in on the guy. He immediately got into it with Branch Rickey when the Pirates brought him up from Indy. Rickey told him he couldn't throw that pitch in the big leagues. He also told him that if he didn't change his delivery he'd send him back to the minors.
Pierro, all 6' 1" and 155 lbs of him told Rickey that was the pitch that got him to where he was and if he sent him down he would be bringing him back again, soon, and he'd be throwing that same pitch. These were Pierro's own words. He told that story and he had the greatest voice you've ever heard. "Wild Bill" lost both of his decisions in a dozen games in 1950, but was considered to be one of the Pirates' top young pitching prospects.
The Pirates were at the end of spring training on April 15, 1951. It was Bill's 25th birthday and he came down with encephalitis, an inflammatory disease which affects the brain. He was in a coma for several weeks. Death seemed inevitable, but Bill eventually came out of it, but his pitching days were over. His four-season minor league run shows that he won 51 times with 31 losses and had a 2.60 ERA.
Bill went home to Brooklyn and his health improved enough that he could live a normal life. His short-lived marriage dissolved in the early 1950s with Bartlesville, Oklahoma, native Tamara Ann Jennings, producing one daughter (Michelle). A longer union to a woman named Gloria (last name unknown) produced two children: Denise (b.1957) and William J. (1960). A man of deep faith, Pierro believed “what’s going to be is going to be. Because the man upstairs, from the day you’re born until the day you die, is in control. This is what I firmly believe.”
He drove a cab for awhile and did carpentry work. He was with the New York City Department of Public Works until 1975 when he had to go on disability because of a spinal cord injury. Pierro lived in his native Brooklyn until his death on April 1, 2006.
This player has no additional cards on Baseball Amore.
Wild Bill is part of the New York City Born Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Pierro is also part of the Military Service during Wartime Tour – go to the Next Stop
Bill is the last stop on the Pittsburgh Pirates Players Tour – Go Home
See Bill’s baseball cards at TCDB
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