MIAMI, United States. — This October 11 turns 57 who was, without a doubt, one of the best Cuban pitchers of all time: Orlando “El Duque” Hernández.
A native of Havana, “El Duque” can boast of loot within the reach of very few players on the island: double national champion with Industriales, Olympic champion in Barcelona 1992 and four-time World Series winners, three of them with the Yankees. from New York.
Despite the fact that “El Duque” was already a stellar pitcher in Cuba —he still boasts the best win-loss average in the National Series— it was with the Bronx Bombers that he became a legend for Cubans inside and outside the Island.
His best season in the Major Leagues was 1999. That year, as part of the Yankees’ starting staff, he finished with a balance of 17 and 9, giving 157 strikeouts in 214.1 innings. The contribution of “El Duque” did not end in the regular season, as he was also selected the MVP of the Series for the American League Championship.
The Havana native won the 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Series consecutively with a Yankees team that had, among others, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Tino Martínez and Paul O’Neill, among others.
As if the three rings with the Big Apple franchise had been few, a no less spectacular fourth came with the Chicago White Sox. He still remembers relieving him in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, when he was brought in in the sixth inning with the bases loaded with no outs.
In that crucial game, “El Duque” managed to dominate the first two batters on two fly balls to then strike out Johnny Damon and close the inning without runs in favor of the White Sox.
Orlando “El Duque” Hernández pitched his last game on September 30, 2007 wearing the New York Mets jersey. Despite having debuted in the Major Leagues at the age of 32, “El Duque” managed to complete nine seasons in which he accumulated 90 wins and 65 losses and ERA of 4.13.
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