Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Willie Hernandez dies

 November 22, 2023

Detroit Tigers fans are grieving the loss of legendary relief pitcher Willie Hernández. He was 69. 

The closer touched greatness in 1984 when he led the Tigers to a World Series win while winning a Cy Young Award and MVP that same year - making him one of a few pitchers to achieve the distinction.

The Puerto Rico native died at his home in Florida. No cause of death was given.

Relief pitcher Willie Hernández dies

His pro career started with the Cubs in 1977, where he showed promise with a 3.03 ERA in 110 innings.

After a trade to the Phillies in 1983, Hernández moved to the '84 Tigers, where he shined with a 1.92 ERA and 32 saves across 80 games.

He closed out the World Series that year - getting Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn to hit a short fly ball during Game 5.

Hernández stayed with the Tigers until 1989 and was a three-time All Star with the Tigers from 1984 to 1986.

Over the course of his 13 years with the MLB, Hernandez had a 3.38 ERA and 147 saves in 744 games and 1,044 ²/₃ innings.

Tributes pour in

The news of his passing sent ripples of grief through the baseball community.

His former Tigers teammate Allan Trammel reminisced on their World Series win in 1984.

"Willie Hernández was a great teammate, and I’m terribly sorry to hear the news of his passing,” Trammell told the Associated Press. “I will never forget our team’s celebration together on the mound after he recorded the final out of the 1984 World Series. He will always be remembered as a World Series champion. My thoughts and prayers are with this family.”

The Detroit Tigers wrote, "Forever a champion. Our thoughts are with the family, friends and teammates of former Tigers reliever Guillermo 'Willie' Hernández."

The MLB wrote, "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Willie Hernandez, who won the AL MVP Award and AL Cy Young Award during the 1984 World Series Championship season for the @tigers."


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