Willie Hernandez, one of the hearts and souls of one of the greatest teams in the history of Major League Baseball, died on Monday at the age of 69.
Hernandez was not only the Cy Young Award winner in 1984 with the World Series-winning Detroit Tigers, but he was also named the American League MVP that season.
He is one of four relievers to be named the Most Valuable Player, along with Jim Konstanty, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley.
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In his MVP campaign, he appeared in 80 games and pitched to a 1.92 ERA while recording 32 saves – he had just 27 combined in his first seven seasons. It was his first All-Star nod, which he parlayed into two more immediately afterward.
The Tigers acquired Hernandez just before that season started from the Philadelphia Phillies, who had just lost the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles.
He was acquired by the Phillies during the ‘83 season from the Chicago Cubs, where he made his MLB debut in 1977. Hernandez’s last MLB appearance was in 1989 with Detroit, although he tried MLB comebacks with the Phillies, Athletics and Yankees.
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Hernandez was one of 25 pitchers to be named an MVP. He had a pacemaker implanted in his chest in 2009.
He was a Puerto Rican native who signed with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1973 at the age of 18.
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Hernandez retired with a 3.38 career ERA, 744 games pitched, and 147 saves.