|Born: October 11, 1965 |
Villa Clara, Cuba
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|June 3, 1998, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 2007, for the New York Mets|
|Earned run average||4.13|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Competitor for Cuba|
|Baseball World Cup|
|Pan American Games|
|Gold||1995 Mar del Plata||Team|
|Central American and Caribbean Games|
His greatest success came as a New York Yankees starter during that team's run of World Series championships in 1998, 1999, and 2000. He also won a championship in 2005 with the Chicago White Sox. He is the half-brother of pitcher Liván Hernández.
Hernández is well known for his extremely high leg kick.
 Cuban years
Hernández played for Industriales of Havana in the Cuban National Series, helping the team win that title in 1992 and 1996. He also represented Havana in Selective Series, on teams including Ciudad Habana and Habaneros. He was 126–47 with 3.05 ERA over his ten-year career in the National Series. His career winning percentage in National and Selective Series, .728, is the league record.
Hernández was also a fixture on the Cuba national baseball team, and was part of the gold-winning Olympic team at Barcelona in 1992.
In September 1995, Hernández's half-brother, Liván Hernández, defected from Cuba. The Cuban national team left Hernández off of their roster in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Then in July 1996, Hernández was detained by Cuban state security and interrogated about his relationship to an American sports agent. Three months later, he was banned from Cuban baseball. On Christmas day 1997, Hernández defected from Cuba, departing on a boat from the small city of Caibarién. The U.S. Coast Guard interdicted Hernández, his companion Noris Bosch, another baseball player named Alberto Hernandez (no relation) and five others in Bahamian waters, delivering the entire party to Bahamian authorities in Freeport, who confined them in a detention center for illegal immigrants pending eventual repatriation to Cuba, the usual outcome of such cases. However, after lobbying by sports agent Mark Cubas and representatives of the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), then-Attorney General Janet Reno eventually offered both Hernándezes and Bosch a special status known as "humanitarian parole" that would allow them to enter the U.S., based on (1) what were judged to be realistic fears of persecution should they be returned to Cuba and (2) their status as exceptionally talented athletes, a class of person that — like exceptionally talented people in other professions — can qualify for special admission to the U.S. under State Department rules. However, Hernández declined this offer, eventually accepting an offer of asylum in Costa Rica. If he had immediately become a U.S. resident, he would have been subject to baseball's regular draft and could only have negotiated terms with the team that picked him. As a non-U.S. resident, however, he was able to negotiate as a free agent. After two months in Costa Rica, Hernández entered the U.S. on a visa arranged by the New York Yankees, with whom he had negotiated a four-year, $6.6 million contract.
 Major league career
Hernández enjoyed his best year in 1999, with a 17–9 record and setting career-highs in strikeouts (157) and innings pitched (214.1) as a Yankee. After the regular season, he was selected the Most Valuable Player in the American League Championship Series. For the 1998-2000 postseasons, all of which resulted in Yankee championships, Hernandez compiled an 8-1 record with a 2.23 ERA. He would spend 6 of his first 7 MLB seasons with the Yankees (Hernández was traded to the Chicago White Sox and then to the Montreal Expos prior to the 2003 season and appeared in uniform but rotator cuff surgery sidelined him all year; the Yankees reacquired him for 2004).
In 2005, while pitching for the Chicago White Sox, Hernández delivered a memorable performance in the sixth inning of Game 3 of the 2005 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. Brought on in relief with the bases loaded and no outs, Hernández induced two fly ball outs before striking out Johnny Damon without surrendering a run. The White Sox would go on to win the game, sweeping the Red Sox out of the playoffs. After the 2005 season, he was traded along with relief pitcher Luis Vizcaíno and the highly touted prospect outfielder Chris Young to the Arizona Diamondbacks for former teammate Javier Vázquez. On May 24, 2006, he was dealt to the New York Mets in exchange for relief pitcher Jorge Julio.
Hernández's debut season in the National League allowed him to attain some offensive feats for the first time in his career. On July 29, 2006, Hernández drove in the first two RBIs of his career. When asked when was the last time he remembered he drove in a run, Orlando said, "In Cuba". Then, on August 20, 2006, at Shea Stadium, Hernández had the first stolen base of his career (3rd).
Hernández pitched well after his trade to the Mets, going 9–7 with a 4.09 ERA in 20 starts as the Mets won the National League East. His stellar pitching in September, going 2–2 with a 2.01 ERA, earned him the privilege of being named the Mets Game 1 Starter in the 2006 National League Division Series. However, while running sprints in the outfield the day before the playoffs started, Hernández tore a muscle in his calf and had to be scratched from the postseason roster. He was re-signed by the Mets on November 14, 2006. Injuries limited Hernández to just 24 starts during the 2007 season, but he pitched successfully when healthy, posting a 9–5 record, a 3.72 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 147 innings. Hernández underwent foot surgery following the 2007 season and was not ready to begin the 2008 season with the Mets. He underwent a lengthy post-surgery rehabilitation program in Florida with the intent of joining the Mets in August 2008. A toe injury that required season-ending surgery in late August 2008 ended Hernández' season without having thrown a pitch for the Mets. He became a free agent at the end of the year.
On June 11, 2009, Hernández signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers. He was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma. The Rangers informed him that they would not call him up, because they do not believe he has the velocity or command to pitch in the majors, setting up his release on July 17, 2009. At the time of his release, his record with the Triple-A RedHawks was 2–0 in eight relief appearances.
On July 2, 2010, he signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, attempting a comeback. He went 2–1 with a 1.72 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 15 2⁄3 innings for the Gulf Coast Nationals and the Double A Harrisburg Senators in the Washington Nationals organization. General Manager Mike Rizzo informed Hernández that he would not receive a September call-up, and Hernández left the organization.
 Disputed birth year
When Hernández signed with the Yankees in 1998, he claimed to have been born in 1969. In 1999, The Smoking Gun published his divorce decree from Cuba, which had surfaced in connection with a child support case brought by his ex-wife; the decree revealed him to have been born in 1965. The official site of Major League Baseball still gives his year of birth as 1969, while his pages on ESPN and Baseball-Reference.com list it as 1965.
 Other career highlights
- 2-time Cuban National Series Champion (1992 & 1996)
 See also
- "Labor de por vida de todos los atletas participantes en las Series Nacionales y Selectivas (lanzadores)" (PDF). Guía Digital 2005–06 (in Spanish). Cocobeisbol (Radiococo.cu). p. 467. Retrieved 2006-10-22.[dead link]
- Jamail, Milton H. (2000). Full Count: Inside Cuban Baseball. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press. p. 88. ISBN 0-8093-2310-9.
- Fainaru, Steve; Ray Sánchez (2003). "Emigration in the Special Period". In Aviva Chomsky, Barry Carr and Pamela Maria Smorkaloff. The Cuba Reader. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. pp. 637–643. ISBN 0-8223-3197-7.
- Branigin, William. 1998. "Cuban Baseball Defector Gets 'Humanitarian Parole.'"Washington Post, January 1.
- Schmitt, Eric. 1998. "U.S. Used Special Authority to Admit Cuban Ballplayers." New York Times, January 2.
- Haberman, Clyde. 1998. "Asylum Pitch: Persecution or Curveball." New York Times, March 27.
- "Orlando Hernandez Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights | MiLB.com Stats | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". Web.minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
- "Rangers release El Duque from Triple-A contract". Associated Press. July 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- "MLB Notebook – Rangers release Orlando Hernandez". The Seattle Times. July 18, 2009.
- "'El Duque' signs minor-league deal - NATS INSIDER". Natsinsider.blogspot.com. 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
- "Orlando Hernandez abruptly leaves the Harrisburg Senators, Washington Nationals | PennLive.com". Blog.pennlive.com. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
- ""El Duque" walks away [updated] - NATS INSIDER". Natsinsider.blogspot.com. 2004-02-27. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
- "The Smoking Gun: Archive (Divorcio Notarial)". The Smoking Gun (in Spanish). Retrieved 2006-10-24. (the decree is in Spanish, with a certified English translation)
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Cuban Baseball Career statistics
- Baseball Almanac
- Cuba Free Press (Spanish)
- Baseball Library
- Divorce decree with earlier birth date (the decree is in Spanish, with a certified English translation)