Ex-Pirates SS Jackie Hernandez, member of 1971 World Series champs, dies
Former Pirates shortstop Jackie Hernandez, who fielded the final out in Game 7 of the 1971 World Series, died Saturday in Miami. He was 79.
Born in Central Tinguaro, Cuba, Hernandez was a shortstop for most of his career. He played nine seasons for four teams from 1965-73, but he gained his greatest fame after he was traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Pirates in 1971. He played in all seven games of the ‘71 World Series, helping the Pirates defeat the Baltimore Orioles.
Early in that season, Hernandez became the Pirates starting shortstop when Gene Alley went down with in injury. Orioles manager Earl Weaver couldn’t believe it when he saw Hernandez at shortstop. A career .208 hitter, Hernandez hit .206 in 1971.
Said Weaver: “The Pirates can’t win the pennant with Hernandez at shortstop.”
Hernandez, who committed 18 errors during the regular season, safely handled all of his 24 chances against Weaver’s Orioles.
A month before the World Series, Hernandez was part of another historic moment on Sept. 1 when Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh started a lineup consisting only of African-American and Latino players. The Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 10-7, that day at Three Rivers Stadium.
“To play in the all-Negro lineup, that was great for me,” Hernandez said 45 years later at the 2016 Society for Baseball Research Conference in Miami. “I will never forget that. I never think that will happen again, a whole lineup of Blacks and Latins. That goes with me for life.”
He played for the Pirates in a reserve role through 1973, his final season in the major leagues.
After Hernandez retired, he stayed in the game as a coach at the youth and professional levels. He was with the independent New Jersey Jackals in 2001.
Jackals player Adam Capodieci told Forbes.com he enjoyed his time with Hernandez.
“He was awesome all the way around,” Capodieci said. “He would throw (batting practice) for hours early if we needed it, or after (the game). He was always willing to get extra work in with us.
“He was silly and goofy, always having jokes with us. In batting practice, if he would jam one of us or break one of our bats, in his crazy voice with his Cuban accent he would say, ‘I got right in your kitchen, baby!’ ”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .