Keith Hernandez, who's enjoyed a neatly-trimmed mustache since the age of 9, turns 54 today.
Hernandez played 8 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, earning a World Series Championship in 1982, before being traded to the New York Mets the following season after failing to get along with manager Whitey Herzog. This went down as the best trade in Mets history (before Mike Piazza) and the absolute worst for the Cards.
In 1984, his first full season with the team, the Mets improved from a record of 68-94 to 90-72, giving them the credibility they longed for. In 1985 however, Hernandez's cocaine use went from rumor to public knowledge after drug pusher Curtis Strong's Pittsburgh trial. Hernandez made a successful recovery and earned another World Championship in 1986 with New York.
In 1989, the Mets declined his contract after several injuries and decreased performance. Hernandez found himself with the Cleveland Indians for 43 games before another back injury ended his career.
But that didn't mean life in the fast lane was over for Hernandez! He's written two books, had a guest appearance on Seinfeld as Elaine's boyfriend, and currently works as a Mets TV analyst on SportsNet New York and as a spokesperson for Just for Men. Let's not forget his brief 1988 appearance on Sesame Street's "Put Down the Ducky" alongside fellow Met Mookie Wilson.
Hernandez won 11 consecutive gold gloves at first base, shared the 1979 NL MVP award with Willie Stargell, still holds the career best for game-winning RBIs with 129, was a five-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, and was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1997.
He never received enough support from the BBWAA to be elected to the Hall of Fame, however. After nine years on the ballot in 2004, he received votes from less than 5% of the writers, making him ineligible. He may still be considered for induction by the Veterans Committee in 2011, twenty years after his retirement.
Happy Birthday, Keith!
[Keith Hernandez Wiki] | [Baseball Reference] | [Baseball Library] | [Childhood Memories]