Former Detroit Tigers closer Willie Hernández, the American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner during the team's 1984 World Series season, has died at the age of 69, Tigers spokesman Chad Crunk announced Tuesday (November 21) via the Associated Press.
Hernández, a native of Puerto Rico, was reported to have died in Florida and the Tigers confirmed his death with his family. No cause of death was announced as of Wednesday (November 22) morning.
Hernández pitched in the majors for 13 seasons, which included making 11 starts during his first seven seasons with the Chicago Cubs, though primarily contributing as a reliever. The left-hander was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in the second month of the 1983 season before being shipped to the Tigers ahead of the 1984 season.
Hernández led all pitchers with 80 appearances and 68 games finished, while also recording a career-best 32 saves, 112 strikeouts and 140.1 innings pitched, in 1984, posting a 9-3 record for the eventual World Series champion Tigers during the regular season, while also recording a 1.69 ERA, two saves and three games finished in three postseason appearances.
“Willie Hernández was a great teammate, and I’m terribly sorry to hear the news of his passing,” said former Tigers star Alan Trammell in a statement obtained by the AP. “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.”