In 1971, Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jackie Hernandez fielded a ground ball and fired it to first base for the final out of a 2-1 World Series-clinching victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
This was a red-letter day in the history of baseball integration as the final game of the ‘71 series featured, for the first time, only African-american and latino players in the starting lineups.
Hernandez passed on Saturday, October 12th in Miami, FL at the age of 79.
A native of Central Tinguaro, Cuba, Hernandez played shortstop for the Pirates from 1971-73. He was a career .526 OPS hitter with his highest mark the last year of his career (.601), though he only saw 78 plate appearances.
That season he hit .247 with no home runs and eight RBIs.
In 1961, after a few seasons of Cuban League ball, Hernandez made the journey to the United States (via Mexico) in hopes of catching on with a big league organization.
Hernandez, mainly a utility man, began his career with the California Angles and stayed with the club during the 1965-66 season. He moved on to the Minnesota Twins for another two years and then on to the Kansas City Royals for an additional pair before settling with the Pirates for the last three years of his career (1971-73).
Hernandez had one season of 500+ at bats in 1969 for the Royals which amounted to a slash line of .222/.278/.282.
Hernandez did little offensively during the 1971 playoffs (.226/.294/.226) but was a steady and reliable defender. He was loved and highly respected by his teammates, regardless.
Once his professional career came to a close in 1977, Hernandez turned to coaching and managing and was lauded for his enthusiastic involvement in developing young players.