A cherished icon has left the Major League Baseball family this week.
Willie Hernandez, a player selected to the All-Star team three times and a winner of the 1984 World Series, has passed at the age of 69 after a prolonged struggle with a heart ailment, as revealed by La Primera Hora, a newspaper in his homeland Puerto Rico.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame corroborated the news on Tuesday and paid homage to Hernández in a tweet.
Hernández, the former Most Valuable Player in the American League and recipient of the Cy Young Award, had been contending with heart complications for about 15 years, as per his wife’s interview with La Primera Hora. In 2019, Hernández had disclosed that he came close to losing his life in 2007 when a cardiac pacemaker was implanted.
Hernández inaugurated his 13-year MLB career with the Chicago Cubs, where he spent six-and-a-half seasons before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1983. He maintained a 3.29 ERA and executed seven saves over 95 2/3 innings.
Prior to the following season, Hernández was traded to the Tigers. His role transitioned to a closer, and he swiftly ascended as a sensation, saving 32 games in 1984 after having saved merely 27 in his preceding seven seasons in the majors. Additionally, he achieved a 1.92 ERA and topped baseball in games pitched and games finished. He is part of an elite group of just 10 pitchers to have clinched both a Cy Young Award and an MVP in the same season.
Hernández earned selection to the All-Star team in his initial three seasons with the Tigers. He continued with the team through 1989.