|POSTER BOY OF THE '80s?|
|JOE TORRE WAS TRADED TO MAKE ROOM FOR KEITH IN '75.|
THE FRONT PAGE
- Magnum P.I. in spikes. That's how I remember Keith Hernandez. Peel away the veneer and below was a fierce ballplayer who revolutionized first base defense, was uncanny in delivering clutch hits and, of course, partied like a rock star. A man's man. What's not to like?
THE BACK PAGE
- Decent bullet-points, but what stands out is how much Hernandez jacked up that batting average from '78, nearly 100 points.
- Looks like Hernandez hadn't fully grown his iconic mustache yet.
- Hernandez was coming off his career year in '79, sharing the MVP award with Willie Stargell.
- In the spring of '80, around the time when this card was hitting packs, Sports Illustrated's baseball preview was hitting newsstands with him on the cover: "Who Is Keith Hernandez and What Is He Doing Hitting .344?''
- The '80s would be a turbulent and rewarding time for Hernandez as the game became more popular but further saturated in money and drugs. It was true then as it is now: Baseball is a microcosm of society.
- While Hernandez was leading the Cardinals to their '82 World Series win with eight RBI, he was in the throes of addiction. He was one of seven players who testified during the Pittsburgh drug trials in '85. His trade from the Cardinals to the Mets in midseason of '83 was due in part because Manager Whitey Herzog knew of his drug use and thought he had become a cancer.
- Wore No. 37 with the Cardinals but switched to 17 with the Mets because 37 was retired in honor of Casey Stengel.
- After acquiring Hernandez, the Mets went from last place to World Series champions in three years.
- When it was an official stat from '80-'88, Hernandez was the all-time leader in game-winning RBI with 129, including a record 24 in '85. I loved that stat and want it brought back. Who's with me?
- Hernandez v. Strawberry during photo day in spring '89 was a noteworthy brawl sparked because Hernandez and Gary Carter didn't support Strawberry when he wanted to walk out of camp in a contract dispute.
- Hernandez's lasting legacy might be his aggressive defense at first base. While most first basemen of the era were lumbering behemoths, Hernandez played cat-like and had a rifle for an arm. He completely took away bunts and sacrifices to the right side.
- Pete Rose once said bunting on Hernandez was like "driving the lane against Bill Russell.''
- Hernandez also forced a rule change in the way first baseman took pickoff throws. Hernandez would position himself in foul territory so he could get the tag down with his right hand more quickly. Now, a first baseman cannot be in foul territory when the ball is pitched. Also, because of his range, he could play way off the bag, and because of his arm, with the Mets, he took most of the relays .
- Finally, if you're a Hernandez fan or just a fan of '80s baseball, check out this simply awesome half-satirical, half-documentary short I'm Keith Hernandez by Rob Perri. Viewer discretion, especially at work and around children, is strongly advised. There is nudity and "sexual situations'' beginning at about the 15-minute mark. And for the record, Hernandez never starred in a porno film.
I'm Keith Hernandez from water&power on Vimeo.