The man who gave Dominican Baseball a national forum as the dominating starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals in its 1982 World Series Championship win over the Milwaukee Brewers, has died today at the age of 62. Joaquin Andujar had a fiery personality on the field of play which made Pedro Martinez seem dull by comparison. His career record showed 127 wins against 118 defeats with a 3.58 ERA which looked average but he was a primetime player.
The four-time All-Star was a champion to players from the Dominican Republic before they exploded on the MLB landscape.
“Andujar distinquished himself for being a great competitor on the field.”
Mario Soto, former MLB pitcher explained. He pitched for the Houston Astros but it was under Whitey Herzog and the St. Louis Cardinals where he experienced his biggest moments.
The man who referred to himself as “One Tough Dominican” left it all on the field. The native of San Pedro de Macoris spent the previous years between the bullpen and starting spots. But Herzog returned him the the starting rotation in 1981 and went 6-1. He took that momentum into the 1982 season finishing at 15-10 and winning game three in the NLCS to complete a three game sweep of the Atlanta Braves.
He pitched twice in the World Series winning a crucial third game in Milwaukee to give St. Louis a 2-1 edge and finally in the seventh and final game in Busch Stadium. After holding the Brew Crew scoreless after four, Milwaukee rallied to take a 3-1 lead off of him. But Joaquin lasted seven gritty innings as St.Louis used a four run sixth en-route to a 6-3 victory and his only championship.
“He was a joy to manage,”
“He didn’t operate with a full deck most of the time but when you had him on your club, you were sitting on a firecracker.”
The powderkeg was lighted in the 1985 World Series against the Kansas City Royals. After losing a controversial sixth game and seeing Andujar ineffective in two postseason games. Despite the fact that he was 21-12 in 1985, a hot John Tudor was chosen to pitch the seventh game by Herzog.
It backfired. Losing 10-0 in the fourth, he put Andujar out on the mound for mop up duty essentially and when the umpire, Doug Denkinger misread a gesture from catcher Darrell Porter and ejected Joaquin, he exploded and had to be restrained by quite a few teammates. Herzog used the moment to ride Denkinger for his missed call in that infamous sixth game. A clubhouse toilet died that night to Andujar, armed with a bat later that night.
After pitching with the Oakland A’s and a last hurrah with the Astros, Joaquin, who had started a trucking business, died at home of diabetes. Al Hrabosky, the Mad Hungarian, knew a colorful character when he saw one.
“Joaquin was just a big personality.”
“There were times for levity and Joaquin was good at that.”