LAKELAND, Fla. — Relief pitcher Willie Hernandez of the Detroit Tigers dumped ice water on a sportswriter Wednesday, accusing the writer of having turned Tiger fans against him.
Columnist Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press was sitting in the Tigers' clubhouse at their spring training camp, talking with pitcher Frank Tanana when the incident occurred.
Hernandez, without saying a word, picked up a large bucket of ice water, poured it over Albom's head, then threw the bucket onto the floor and walked away, muttering.
Albom remained seated, but said: "You're a class act, Willie. I wasn't even talking to you."
Hernandez said later that Albom was to blame for the way fans at Tiger Stadium have booed him in recent seasons. Hernandez claimed that Albom called him a crybaby in a column last year.
Hernandez, who was traded to the Tigers just before the 1984 season, won the hearts of fans and the American League Cy Young and most-valuable-player awards in helping the Tigers to that year's World Series championship. He had 32 saves in 33 opportunities that year.
He had another 30-save season in 1985 but has slipped badly the last two seasons.
He had a poor outing against the Minnesota Twins in the American League playoffs last year, and after the Twins won the series in five games, said he would rather be traded than face another season in Detroit.
The Tigers said they plan no disciplinary action against Hernandez.