Willie Hernandez Death: MLB Pitching Star Passes Away At 69

On November 20, 2023, Guillermo Hernández Villanueva, a Puerto Rican relief pitcher, passed away at the age of 69. His notable achievements include clinching both the American League Cy Young Award and the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1984. That remarkable season saw him play a pivotal role in guiding the Detroit Tigers to victory in the World Series.

A native of Aguada, Puerto Rico, Hernández spent his formative years in the same town. In 1973, he inked a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and spent the subsequent three years, from 1974 to 1976, in their minor-league system, primarily serving as a starting pitcher.

In this article, we will delve into the details surrounding the recent passing of Willie Hernandez. While the cause of death remains uncertain, Willie’s wife, Dulce Carrasco, shared with Primera Hora that her husband had been contending with heart issues for an extended period. Join us as we explore not only the circumstances of his passing but also delve into more aspects of Willie Hernandez’s life.

End Of An Era: MLB Grieves Willie Hernandez’s Death

Willie Hernández, the former MLB relief pitcher, passed away at the age of 69, as announced by the Tigers on Tuesday November 21 2023. Hernández, a left-handed pitcher, began his professional career when the Phillies signed him as an amateur free agent in 1973.

Willie Hernandez Death: MLB Pitching Star Passes Away At 69

After progressing to Triple-A within the Phillies organization, he was selected by the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft in 1976. Hernández spent seven seasons as a reliever for the Cubs, displaying varying levels of success, notably excelling in his rookie year in 1977 with a 3.03 ERA in 110 innings and a 3.2 WAR.

In the midst of the 1983 season, Hernández was traded back to the Phillies, and in the subsequent offseason, he became part of a four-player swap that sent him to the Tigers. This trade would set the stage for Hernández’s career-best season, marked by the development of his screwball and cutter.

The 1984 Tigers, with Hernández playing a pivotal role, began the season impressively with a 35-5 record, won 104 games in the regular season, and secured a World Series title with a 7-1 playoff record. Hernández contributed significantly by saving three games in the playoffs and maintaining outstanding performance throughout the memorable year.

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During the regular season, Hernández appeared in 80 bullpen games, posting a 9-3 record with 32 saves in 33 chances. His impressive stats included a 1.92 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 112 strikeouts, and just 28 walks in an impressive 140 1/3 innings. With a 4.8 WAR, Hernández earned his first All-Star Game appearance and clinched both the AL Cy Young and AL MVP awards.

Willie Hernández: MLB Career, Entrepreneurship, And Legacy

Hernández’s tenure in Major League Baseball spanned 13 seasons, during which he participated in 744 games—733 as a relief pitcher and 11 as a starter. Accumulating a record of 70–63, he maintained a 3.38 ERA, secured 788 strikeouts, and notched 147 saves across 1,044-2/3 innings pitched. Notably, at the plate, he held a .206 batting average (13-for-63) and contributed three runs batted in.

Willie Hernandez Death: MLB Pitching Star Passes Away At 69

Post-retirement, Hernández transitioned into entrepreneurship, owning and operating a steel construction business in Puerto Rico. Later, he divested from the construction business and ventured into running a cattle ranch.

In 1978, Hernández tied the knot with Carmen Rivera, with whom he had two sons—Guillermo, born around 1981, and Xavier, born approximately in 1982. As the years passed after his playing career, Hernández faced health challenges, grappling with asthma and diabetes, and enduring multiple strokes. In 2009, he underwent heart surgery.

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Returning to Detroit on April 4, 2019, Hernández had the honor of throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the Tigers’ 2019 home opener. Tragically, on November 20, 2023, at the age of 69, Hernández passed away at his residence in Sebring, Florida. Plans were made for his body to be transported to Aguada, where his funeral would take place.

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