Orlando Hernandez recreated a classic moment in White Sox history on Tuesday.
The former White Sox pitcher, better known as El Duque, was back in Chicago for a panel discussion on Cuban baseball at U.S. Cellular Field Tuesday morning. Before heading in, though, he posed in front of one of the indelible images of the 2005 season -- his strikeout of Johnny Damon with the bases loaded in the ALDS against Boston.
"It was very emotional," Hernandez said through a translator. "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."
Since leaving the White Sox following the 2005 season, El Duque has only been back in Chicago three times, with Tuesday being one of those trips. He currently lives in Miami and works with New York Yankees minor leaguers.
Hernandez officially retired in 2011 but last pitched in the majors in 2007. He wrote himself into White Sox lore on Oct. 7, 2005, entering a critical situation in Game 3 of the ALDS in Boston with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Hernandez got Jason Varitek to foul out, Tony Graffanino to pop out and then struck out Johnny Damon on a 3-2 slider to end the frame, propelling the White Sox to a sweep and berth in the ALCS.
"I’ll see Johnny Damon on occasion, it will kind of bring back the memories," Hernandez said. "I’m reminded of the team and the effort and everything that was put forth to get that World Series."
The 10-year anniversary of the 2005 World Series White Sox is coming up next year, and while Hernandez said he's not a fan of Chicago's cold winter climate, he has a standing offer to join his former teammates for SoxFest in January.
"They already extended the invitation," Hernandez smiled.