Thursday, July 25

Willie Hernández, Relief Pitcher Who Had a Banner 1984, Dies at 69

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Hernández led major league pitchers in appearances (80) and games finished (68) in 1984, when he posted a 9-3 record with a 1.92 earned run average. He had 32 saves in 33 chances after tallying a total of only 27 saves in his seven previous seasons.

The 1984 Tigers finished 104-58 in the regular season, then swept the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series and defeated the San Diego Padres, 4-1, in the World Series.

Hernández appeared in three games in the World Series and had saves in two of them. He yielded just one run and four hits in 5⅓ innings. He earned the final out of the clinching Game 5, getting Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn to hit a soft fly to left field.

Hernández became only the third pitcher in major league history, after Sandy Koufax and Denny McLain, to win the Cy Young and M.V.P. awards and appear with World Series champions in the same season. He was an All-Star in 1984 and the two seasons that followed.

Guillermo Hernández Villanueva was born on Nov. 14, 1954, in Aguada, P.R., the seventh of eight children. His father, Dinicio, worked in a sugar cane factory, and his mother, Dominga, was a housekeeper. He played baseball as a youth, joined the Puerto Rican national team in 1973 after his high school graduation and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization in September for a $25,000 bonus (the equivalent of about $170,000 today).

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