Rest In Peace Guillermo "Willie" Hernandez
We lost another one and it gets tougher and tougher. These days, it seems like every day another player from my youth passes away. Sometimes it's a player I barely remember, other times it's someone I know well. Recently, we lost a player who I remember quite well, Guillermo "Willie" Hernandez.
Although he was originally signed by my hometown Phillies, I was only seven years old when the Phillies lost him to the Cubs in the Rule V Draft. I knew nothing of the Rule V Draft back in the day. I do remember though in May of 1983 when the Phillies traded Rufus, Dick Ruthven, along with a minor league to acquire Willie (as he was known at the time.) He was a solid reliever and it was time for Rufus to move on. Willie had a solid season.
Now back when I was 14, I really didn't know all the nuances of baseball. I was suprised when Willie was traded after the season. I remember being ecstatic that the Phillies had acquired Glenn Wilson (and John Wockenfuss, I wasn't excited about him) in the trade. Wilson was solid for the Phillies with one extraordinary year, but Willie was amazing for Detroit!
Although he had been called Willie for his major league career up to this date, he wanted to be called by his real name, Guillermo. I didn't fully understand that at 15, but of course it makes sense now.
The 1984 Tigers started 35-5 and Willie would win the Cy Young Award and MVP Award as they went all the way. Just an amazing season for him! He would never duplicate that season, but for one year, he was the best in the game!
Rest in Peace, Guillermo "Willie" Hernandez...you will be missed, but will always be a Sportscard Memory!