CHICAGO -- Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who arguably pitched the most historic inning of relief in White Sox history during Game 3 of the 2005 American League Division Series at Fenway Park, returned to U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday for a panel discussion entitled "White Sox Baseball: A History of Cuban Stars."
Hernandez was joined on the panel by fellow Cuban natives Minnie Minoso, Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Adrian Nieto. But before discussing his life and answering questions, Hernandez took his first look at the World Series sculpture in front of U.S. Cellular Field immortalizing Hernandez from his moment against Boston and his teammates in their title run.
"It was very emotional," said a smiling Hernandez, who finished 9-9 with a 5.12 ERA over 24 games (22 starts) in '05, through an interpreter. "All that are there should give thanks to the White Sox for having it and keeping them in mind with regards to the sculpture. It was an important World Series win and it was nice commemorating the team."
After retiring following the '07 season, Hernandez now lives in Miami and works with Yankees Minor Leaguers. He's looking forward to the 10-year-anniversary celebration of the White Sox title, adding that he already had been extended an invitation for the January festivities that figure to coincide with SoxFest '15.
His sixth inning of ALDS relief against the Red Sox certainly will be talked about at that time. He replaced Damaso Marte with the bases loaded, nobody out and Jason Varitek at the plate in a 4-3 White Sox lead. Hernandez induced a foul popup to first from Varitek, got an infield popup from Tony Graffanino on a 3-2 pitch as the culmination of a 10-pitch at-bat and struck out Johnny Damon on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. The White Sox finished off the Red Sox, 5-3, after this memorable moment.
"I don't think about baseball from day to day," said Hernandez, who hugged executive vice president Ken Williams upon entering the Conference and Learning Center for Tuesday's event. "But I'll see Johnny Damon on occasion and it will kind of bring back the memories. I'm reminded of the team and the effort and everything that was put forth to get that World Series."