Remember Orlando "El Duque" Hernández?

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September 22, 2012 4:21 PM by Wade Blogs

While watching the Yankees Athletics game last night, we saw a rather unusual occurrence.  With one out in the bottom of the third inning, Ichiro Suzuki hit a tapper back to the mound to Oakland pitcher Jarrod Parker – not that unusual.  The crazy part happened as Parker went to field the ball and it had gotten lost in his jersey!  Parker was clearly frustrated as he failed to pull the ball out of his green and California gold top.  This broke up Parker’s no hit bid.  Now you’re wondering what the heck does this have to do with Orlando “El Duque” Hernández? 

Well on June 5, 1999 in a matchup at Yankee Stadium against the Mets, El Duque was apart of a head scratching unusual play.  Let me paint the picture for you because I was there and remember it vividly (with some refreshing points from the video below).

El Duque was pitching in the bottom of the second inning, Mets up 1-0.  Rey Ordoñez was up at the plate with a 0-1 count, no men on.  He hit a come backer to El Duque, I kid you not, got STUCK in his glove.  El Duque, being the ever quick thinking athlete, threw the WHOLE glove to first baseman, Tino Martinez, for the out. 

It was the most wild thing I saw on a ball field.  I was baffled!  I needed Billy Haywood (Little Big League) there to tell me the ruling and if it ever happened before in our National Pastime.  If you didn’t get that joke you really should watch Little Big League.

That brings me back to El Duque and how he came to the United States of America to play for the most famous franchise in professional sports.  Apparently, his half brother, Liván Hernàndez defected and El Duque was questioned for having ties to an U.S. sports agent.  Well the Cuban authorities detained him and eventually banned him from Cuban baseball.  So he defected Cuba soon after that (on Christmas Day 1997) and made it to the Bahamas when the U.S. Coast Guard caught him and turned him over to Bahamian authorities.  Long story short he was lobbied to not be sent back to Cuba out of fear of prosecution.  The US government got involved and then-Attorney General Janet Reno offered him “Humanitarian Parole.”  Few months later El Duque is pitching in Pinstripes.

Leads me to question….How much money did George M. Steinbrenner III have to donate to the Democratic party (President Clinton was in office) to speed up this process. Either way El Duque has 4 rings: Yankees: 1998, 1999, 2000 and Chicago, no need to specify the team, 2005.

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