Sunday, April 15, 2018

Jackie Hernandez (#686)

Jackie Hernandez was the Kansas City Royals’ first starting shortstop. Earlier, he had played 2 seasons for the Twins, and later wrapped up his career with the Pirates.

Hernandez was signed by the Indians in 1961, and was initially a catcher. He switched over to shortstop during his 2nd pro season, although still catching a few dozen games from ’62 to ’64.

The Indians released him in May 1965, and he was quickly snapped up by the Angels. He made his major-league debut with 1 game in September 1965.

Jackie was with the Angels for all of the 1966 season, but only played in 58 games. He was used as a pinch-runner in 37 of those games (sort of a pre-Herb Washington!) and also backed up the infield positions.

In April 1967, Hernandez was sent to the Twins as the “player to be named” in the Dean Chance for Don Mincher, Jimmie Hall, and Pete Cimino deal. Jackie spent most of the ’67 season in triple-A, but played 29 games for the Twins in August and September.

The Twins traded their starting shortstop Zoilo Versalles to the Dodgers after the 1967 season for a bunch of players, and handed Jackie the starting job for 1968. He started the first 29 games (and 58 of the first 80 games), but was sent down to the minors for most of July and all of August, when the Twins tried Ron Clark and Rick Renick at the position.

In October 1968, Hernandez was selected by the Royals in the expansion draft, and became their everyday shortstop in 1969. He started 139 games, and played in 6 more. His 145 games played tied him with Joe Foy for most games played by a Royal in 1969. He was also 2nd (to Foy) in plate appearances and at-bats. Not a bad turnaround for someone who up until then appeared to be destined to be a utility scrub.

Jackie started off the 1970 season as the starting shortstop, but by mid-June was benched in favor of rookie Rich Severson and the newly-acquired Tom Matchick.

After the 1970 season, Hernandez (along with pitcher Bob Johnson and backup catcher Jim Campanis) were traded to the Pirates for shortstop Freddie Patek, catcher Jerry May, and pitcher Bruce Dal Canton.

Hernandez spend the next 3 seasons as a backup to Gene Alley. He started quite a bit over the last 6 weeks on the 1971 season, and also started all the games in the NLCS and all but 1 game in the World Series (maybe Alley was injured?)

Jackie was traded to the Phillies in January 1974 for catcher Mike Ryan, but was released in late April, without having played for the Phillies. The Pirates resigned him the same day, but he played the entire season for their triple-A team,

Hernandez finished out his career playing in Mexico from 1975-76.