Yes, for those of you who don't remember the Pre-Seinfeld days, Keith Hernandez played for the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, it's unlikely the St. Louis Cardinals win the 1982 World Series without him.For that reason along with five gold gloves, a NL Batting Title, a Silver Slugger Award, and an MVP award, Keith Hernandez should be admitted to the St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Fame.
The St Louis Cardinals announced on Wednesday the nominees for the 2019 Cardinal HOF class. The prospective candidates are Hernandez, Jason Isringhausen,Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen, and John Tudor. I like the choices, all are deserving nominees, and a case could be made for each of them.
But in this piece, I hope to make the case for Hernandez and why now is the time to admit him to the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.
THE CARDINAL YEARS.
Keith Hernandez was drafted by the St.Louis Cardinals in the 41st round of the 1971 Major League Baseball draft as the 783rd player selected. Hernandez climbed gradually through the Cardinals minor league system and made his major league debut at Candlestick Park on August 30, 1974 against the San Francisco Giants.
In his first few seasons with the Redbirds, Hernandez established himself as a respectable,if not outstanding hitter and showed his defensive acumen at first base by winning his first gold glove award in 1978.
However, in 1979, the left handed Hernandez, exploded at the plate by hitting torrid .344 with 11 HR and 105 RBIs. He also led the league in doubles(48), runs scored(116), and won the NL batting title.Hernandez also earned his second gold glove and made his first All Star appearance. As a result, he won the NL MVP award, in which he shared with the Pirates Willie Stargell.(don't get me started about this one)
In 1982, Hernandez continued to be a key contributor with the Cardinals by hitting a slash line of .299/.397/.413, with 94 RBIs, drawing a 100 BB, and earning his fifth Gold Glove. In the NLCS with the Atlanta Braves he had a .333 BA, and in the World Series vs the Milwaukee Brewers he had eight RBIs.
A team is not an individual, but without Keith Hernandez, the St.Louis Cardinals do not win the 1982 World Series.
HERNANDEZ'S FALL FROM GRACE IN ST. LOUIS
This has to be addressed, because it is still discussed and debated about why the St. Louis Cardinals traded Keith Hernandez in 1983.
By 1983, Hernandez and Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog were reportedly feuding about various issues. One reported issue was Hernandez's suspected drug use. Herzog called Hernandez 'a cancer in the clubhouse, and felt the first baseman needed to be traded. Hernandez was traded to the New York Mets on June 15, 1983 for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Owenby.
Most Cardinal fans were stunned by the trade and the Cardinals never received much return from the trade, but Herzog said he never regretted it. A few years later, Hernandez admitted to his drug use with the Cardinals and felt like that was the main reason he was traded.
HERNANDEZ'S POST CARDINAL YEARS
Keith Hernandez went on to become a key component of the New York Mets in the mid to late 80s, helping them win the 1986 World Series. He went on to win six more Gold Gloves at first base and a Silver Slugger Award.
His post baseball career includes being a part of the New York Mets broadcast team and a legendary appearance on Seinfeld. Whitey Herzog and Keith Hernandez have long since buried the hatchet with each other, in fact Hernandez has made appearances in St. Louis for some of Whitey's charities.
Even though many associate Keith Hernandez with the Mets, he talks fondly of this Cardinal days. I think Keith Hernandez would be greatly honored to be admitted to the St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Fame. He understands and appreciates the history of the St. Louis Cardinals and I think would be a great addition to the HOF.
Finally, I think Keith Hernandez is the greatest defensive first baseman in the history of game and the Cardinals would be wise to honor this accomplishment.
Let's put Keith Hernandez in the 2019 St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame class. Thanks for reading and you may follow me on Twitter @frrobinson1957.