Hernández with the New York Mets
Born: October 11, 1965|
Villa Clara, Cuba
|June 3, 1998, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 2007, for the New York Mets|
|Earned run average||4.13|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Baseball World Cup|
|Pan American Games|
|1995 Mar del Plata||Team|
|Central American and Caribbean Games|
His greatest success came as a New York Yankees starter during that team's run of World Series championships in 1998, 1999, and 2000. He also won a championship in 2005 with the Chicago White Sox. He is the half-brother of pitcher Liván Hernández.
Hernández is well known for his extremely high leg kick and his frequent use of Eephus pitch.
Hernández played for Industriales of Havana in the Cuban National Series, helping the team win that title in 1992 and 1996. He also represented Havana in Selective Series, on teams including Ciudad Habana and Habaneros. He was 126–47 with 3.05 ERA over his ten-year career in the National Series. His career winning percentage in National and Selective Series, .728, is the league record.
Hernández was also a fixture on the Cuba national baseball team, and was part of the gold-winning Olympic team at Barcelona in 1992.
In September 1995, Hernández's half-brother, Liván Hernández, defected from Cuba. The Cuban national team left Hernández off of their roster in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Then in July 1996, Hernández was detained by Cuban state security and interrogated about his relationship to an American sports agent. Three months later, he was banned from Cuban baseball. On Christmas Day 1997, Hernández defected from Cuba, departing on a boat from the small city of Caibarién. The U.S. Coast Guard interdicted Hernández, his companion Noris Bosch, another baseball player named Alberto Hernández (no relation) and five others in Bahamian waters, delivering the entire party to Bahamian authorities in Freeport, who confined them in a detention center for illegal immigrants pending eventual repatriation to Cuba, the usual outcome of such cases. However, after lobbying by sports agent Joe Cubas and representatives of the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), then-Attorney General Janet Reno eventually offered both Hernándezes and Bosch a special status known as "humanitarian parole" that would allow them to enter the U.S., based on (1) what were judged to be realistic fears of persecution should they be returned to Cuba and (2) their status as exceptionally talented athletes, a class of person that — like exceptionally talented people in other professions — can qualify for special admission to the U.S. under State Department rules. However, Hernández declined this offer, eventually accepting an offer of asylum in Costa Rica. If he had immediately become a U.S. resident, he would have been subject to baseball's regular draft and could only have negotiated terms with the team that picked him. As a non-U.S. resident, however, he was able to negotiate as a free agent. After two months in Costa Rica, Hernández entered the U.S. on a visa arranged by the New York Yankees, with whom he had negotiated a four-year, $6.6 million contract.
Major league career
New York Yankees
In his first year in the Major Leagues in 1998, Hernandez posted a 12-4 record with a 3.13 ERA. He was part of the World Series-winning team when the Yankees beat the San Diego Padres. He finished in 4th place in AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Hernández enjoyed his best year in 1999, with a 17–9 record and setting career-highs in strikeouts (157) and innings pitched (214.1) as a Yankee. In one comical moment during a game against the Mets on June 5, 1999, Hernandez fielded a ground ball by Rey Ordóñez and hurled his glove with the ball in it at first base to get the out. After the regular season, he was selected the Most Valuable Player in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees would eventually win their 2nd straight World Series title against the Atlanta Braves.
Hernandez went 12-13 with a 4.51 ERA during the 2000 regular season. The Yankees then won their 3rd straight World Series title after beating the Mets. For his first 3 postseasons from 1998–2000, Hernandez performed well by going 8-1 with a 2.23 ERA.
Hernandez went 4-7 with a 4.85 ERA in 17 games (16 starts). The Yankees entered the World Series for the 4th year in a row but ended up losing to the Diamondbacks.
On January 15, 2003, Hernández was traded by the Yankees to the Montreal Expos, in a three-team trade that involved the Chicago White Sox. He never appeared in a game for the Expos and missed the entire season due to a rotator cuff injury in his throwing shoulder that needed surgery to repair.
Second stint with Yankees
Hernandez signed a one-year contract to return to the New York Yankees on March 11, 2004. He missed the start of the 2004 season due to still recovering from his rotator cuff surgery. He started 15 games going 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA. He led the Yankees to the postseason once again, but they ended up losing to the eventual World-champ Boston Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS.
Chicago White Sox
In 2005, while pitching for the Chicago White Sox, Hernández went 9-9 with a 5.12 ERA and 1 save in 24 appearances (22 starts). He delivered a memorable performance in the sixth inning of Game 3 of the 2005 ALDS against the Red Sox. Brought on in relief with the bases loaded and no outs, Hernández induced two fly ball outs before striking out Johnny Damon without surrendering a run. The White Sox would go on to win the game, sweeping the Red Sox out of the playoffs. Leading the White Sox to the World Series, they swept the Houston Astros to seal their first championship since 1917.
After the 2005 season, he was traded along with relief pitcher Luis Vizcaíno and the highly touted prospect outfielder Chris Young to the Arizona Diamondbacks for former teammate Javier Vázquez. In 9 starts, Hernandez went 2-4 with a 6.11 ERA.
New York Mets
On May 24, 2006, he was dealt to the New York Mets in exchange for relief pitcher Jorge Julio. Hernández's debut season in the National League allowed him to attain some offensive feats for the first time in his career. On July 29, 2006, Hernández drove in the first two RBIs of his career. When asked when was the last time he remembered he drove in a run, Orlando said, "In Cuba." Then, on August 20, 2006, at Shea Stadium, Hernández had the first stolen base of his career.
After his trade to the Mets, Hernández went 9–7 with a 4.09 ERA in 20 starts as the Mets won the National League East. His pitching in September, going 2–2 with a 2.01 ERA, led to him being named the Mets Game 1 Starter in the 2006 National League Division Series. However, while running sprints in the outfield the day before the playoffs started, Hernández tore a muscle in his calf and had to be scratched from the postseason roster. He was re-signed by the Mets on November 14, 2006. Injuries limited Hernández to just 24 starts during the 2007 season, but he pitched successfully when healthy, posting a 9–5 record, a 3.72 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 147 innings. Hernández underwent foot surgery following the 2007 season and was not ready to begin the 2008 season with the Mets. He underwent a lengthy post-surgery rehabilitation program in Florida with the intent of joining the Mets in August 2008. A toe injury that required season-ending surgery in late August 2008 ended Hernández' season without ever having to throw a pitch for the Mets. He became a free agent at the end of the year .
Texas Rangers organization
On June 11, 2009, Hernández signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers. He was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma. The Rangers informed him that they would not call him up, because they do not believe he has the velocity or command to pitch in the majors, setting up his release on July 17, 2009. At the time of his release, his record with the Triple-A RedHawks was 2–0 in eight relief appearances.
Washington Nationals organization
On July 2, 2010, he signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, attempting a comeback. He went 2–1 with a 1.72 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 15 2⁄3 innings for the Rookie League Gulf Coast Nationals and the Double-A Harrisburg Senators in the Washington Nationals organization. General Manager Mike Rizzo informed Hernández that he would not receive a September call-up, and Hernández left the organization.
Disputed birth year
When Hernández signed with the Yankees in 1998, he claimed to have been born in 1969. In 1999, The Smoking Gun published his divorce decree from Cuba, which had surfaced in connection with a child support case brought by his ex-wife; the decree revealed him to have been born in 1965. The official site of Major League Baseball still gives his year of birth as 1969, while his pages on ESPN and Baseball-Reference.com list it as 1965.
Other career highlights
Hernández is a two-time Cuban National Series Champion (1992 and 1996).
In June 2013, Hernández participated in the 67th annual Yankees Old-Timers' Day. It was his first appearance during Old-Timers' Day. He returned in 2014.
- "Labor de por vida de todos los atletas participantes en las Series Nacionales y Selectivas (lanzadores)" (PDF). Guía Digital 2005–06 (in Spanish). Cocobeisbol (Radiococo.cu). p. 467. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2012. Retrieved 2006-10-22.
- Jamail, Milton H. (2000). Full Count: Inside Cuban Baseball. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press. p. 88. ISBN 0-8093-2310-9.
- Fainaru, Steve; Ray Sánchez (2003). "Emigration in the Special Period". In Aviva Chomsky, Barry Carr and Pamela Maria Smorkaloff. The Cuba Reader. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. pp. 637–643. ISBN 0-8223-3197-7.
- Branigin, William. 1998. "Cuban Baseball Defector Gets 'Humanitarian Parole.' Washington Post, January 1.
- Schmitt, Eric. 1998. "U.S. Used Special Authority to Admit Cuban Ballplayers." New York Times, January 2.
- Haberman, Clyde. 1998. "Asylum Pitch: Persecution or Curveball." New York Times, March 27.
- BASEBALL; Hernández and Colón Traded in Three-Team Deal
- All the Yankees Are Raving About Hernández's Second Act
- "Orlando Hernández Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights | MiLB.com Stats | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". Web.minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
- "Rangers release El Duque from Triple-A contract". Associated Press. July 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- "MLB Notebook – Rangers release Orlando Hernandez". The Seattle Times. July 18, 2009.
- "'El Duque' signs minor-league deal – NATS INSIDER". Natsinsider.blogspot.com. 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
- "Orlando Hernandez abruptly leaves the Harrisburg Senators, Washington Nationals | PennLive.com". Blog.pennlive.com. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
- ""El Duque" walks away [updated] - NATS INSIDER". Natsinsider.blogspot.com. 2004-02-27. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
- El Duque Retires in Miami
- "The Smoking Gun: Archive (Divorcio Notarial)". The Smoking Gun (in Spanish). Retrieved 2006-10-24. (the decree is in Spanish, with a certified English translation)
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Cuban Baseball Career statistics
- Baseball Almanac
- Baseball Library
- Cuba Free Press (Spanish)
- Divorce decree with earlier birth date (the decree is in Spanish, with a certified English translation)
- Venezuelan Professional Baseball League statistics