Friday, May 19, 2006


I couldn't help but think about my friend Jackie Hernandez, who now coaches third base for the St. Paul Saints, this week.

Jackie left his native Cuba nearly a half century ago to come to the United States and play baseball. Could he ever pick 'em at shortstop, bow legs and all. Many of those who have seen the spry 65-year-old on Independent Baseball diamonds the last several years probably don't even realize he spent nine years in the major leagues (Angels, Twins, Royals, Pirates) and threw out the final batter when Pittsburgh won the 1971 World Series.

I think about Jackie for so many reasons, since he and I date back to 1967 in Denver (Triple-A), but on this particular day it was a little chilly as the New Haven County Cutters of the Can-Am League worked out. The players who had just arrived from points such as Florida, Venezuela and Puerto Rico were being introduced to Northeastern May chill. They weren't prepared.

Jackie Hernandez never has gotten used to the sub-80-degree days. So, if you are at an American Association game and if you look closely when he is waiving Saints runners around third base and it is much under, say 65, it is a decent wager he has his long johns under his uniform.

You can even say I told this little story on him.

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