Keith Hernandez- Part One (St. Louis Years 1974-1982)

 Keith Hernandez was born on October 20th, 1953 in San Francisco California

The six foot left handed hitting first baseman, became known as "Mex". He & his father both hated the nick name, since he is not Mexican, but has family roots (on his fathers side) in Spain. His mother was of Scottish / Irish dissent.

He attended high School at San Bruno California. He was a star player in high school but did not get along with his coach. He even sat out his senior year after a major dispute with that coach. He was eventually drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971 as a 42nd round pick.

After being an average hitter, he changed his style & it all came together by 1973. That year had his best hitting season, at AAA Tulsa he batted .333. 

He made his MLB debut on August 30, 1974 at his hometown, in Candlestick Park, San Francisco in a 8-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. He got his first career hit off Mike Cauldwell in the 9th inning, driving in Bake McBride with his first ever RBI.

The next year the Cardinals traded away Joe Torre to the New York Mets, to open the door for Hernandez at first base. To quickly run through his Cardinals career; he spent nine and a half seasons as the team's first baseman winning an MVP Award & a World Series title there. 

After wearing the uniform #18 he switched to #37 insisting it ended in a 7, in honor of Mickey Mantle, whom he shared a birthday with.  In 1976 he batted .289 followed up by .291 in 1977. That year he hit 41 doubles & scored 90 runs for the first of two straight seasons.

Hernandez was an outstanding first baseman & was recognized as the leagues best fielding first baseman, taking over the reign from the Dodgers Steve Garvey. Hernandez won his first Gold Glove in 1978, starting a string of 11 consecutive years winning the Award.

In 1979 he broke out & became a star player. That year he won the NL batting title (.344) & led the league in doubles (48) & runs scored (116), while winning a co-MVP Award with the Pirates Willie Stargell. It was the only time two players received the same amount of votes by the BWAA. 

That year he drove in 105 runs, the only time he would pass the 100 RBI mark, although he drove in 90 or more six times. He also posted an on base % of .417 for the third place Cardinals.
Hernandez became one of the games better hitters, driving the ball for base hits, doubles & run production, driving in 90 runs or more four times in his Cardinal career. Although he was not a power hitter, he would never hit more than 18 HRs in his career. He hit for good averages, batting over .300 three times & .290 or better six times in his first nine seasons with the Cardinals.

Hernandez also drew a lot of walks, while put up excellent on base percentages, leading the league in that category in 1980 (.408) & posting .400% or better four times as a Cardinal. 

As the eighties began, Whitey Herzog eventually became the St. Louis manager. He & Hernandez would have an explosive relationship. In 1980 Keith led the NL in runs scored (111) & on base & (.408) while batting .321 which was second to the Cubs; Bill Buckner of all people. 

He fell short of the 100 RBI mark, driving in 99 runs. In the wacky strike shortened 1981 season he batted .306 playing in just 108 games.

By 1982 the Cardinals were one of the NL's best teams winning 90 games. They defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. Hernandez batted .299 with 33 doubles 7 HRs 94 RBIs with a career high 100 walks posting a .397 on base %.

1982 Post Season: In the 1982 post season, he began going 4-12 (.333) with an RBI in the NLCS sweep over the Atlanta Braves. He drove in his only run in the Cards 6-2 win at Atlanta in Game #3.

1982 World Series: In the World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers, he went hitless in the first four games before getting hot. 

In Game #5 at Milwaukee, he hit a pair of doubles driving in two runs in the 6-4 Cardinal loss. 

In Game #6 back in St. Louis, he got two more hits driving in four runs, including a 4th inning two run HR off Don Sutton in the 13-1 Cardinals romp, forcing a Game Seven.


Game #7 Legacy: In that Game #7, he came to bat against his old high school team mate; Bob McClure with the bases loaded & St. Louis down 3-1 in the 6th inning. Hernandez drove a single to right center field scoring Lonnie & Ozzie Smith with the tying runs. The Cards went on to a 6-3 win & won the World Series. In the Series he drove in eight runs the most by any player & hit .259, with seven hits & one HR.

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