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Joaquin Andujar dead, former St. Louis Cardinals ace was 62

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar sticks out

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar sticks out his tongue as he pitches in the first inning of Game 4 of the World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium in Milwaukee on Oct. 15, 1982. Credit: AP / Anonymous

ST. LOUIS - Joaquin Andujar, a star pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s who called himself "One tough Dominican," has died in his native Dominican Republic. He was 62.

The team said he died Tuesday. Leonardo Matos Berrido, president of the Dominican Baseball League, said the cause was diabetes complications.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of the best pitchers in Cardinals history," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his friends and his teammates today."

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, who like Andujar is from San Pedro de Macoris, wrote on his Instagram account that Andujar's death was a "big pain for all baseball fans, especially all Dominicans, but even more so for all of us who had the chance to know you and learn from your example."

The Cardinals planned a tribute to the fiery right-hander, who threw as hard to first base as to the hitters, before playing the Cubs.

"Joaquin was just a big personality," said Cardinals broadcaster Al Hrabosky, a colorful performer himself known as the Mad Hungarian during his playing career.

"He was good for the ballclub, not just for the wins but also to help keep people loose. There were times for levity and Joaquin was good at that."

Andujar was a two-time All-Star during five seasons with the Cardinals from 1981-85. He had 20-win seasons in 1984 and '85, led the National League in victories in '84 and was a 15-game winner on the Cardinals' World Series title team in '82.

He won 21 games in 1985 for an NL championship team and was ejected from Game 7 of the 1985 World Series against the Royals for arguing balls and strikes with plate umpire Don Denkinger.

For his career, Andujar was 127-118 with a 3.58 ERA.

"Andujar distinguished himself for being a great competitor on the field, and for defending the Dominican players," said former major league pitcher Mario Soto, president of the National Federation of Professional Players in the Dominican Republic.

"He always worked for Dominican players to be respected and valued in the United States."

Enos Cabell, a special assistant to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, played with Andujar for five seasons at the beginning of the pitcher's career. Andujar also played for Oakland.

"Joaquin was a great competitor and very entertaining as a teammate," Cabell said. "He went on to become one of the best pitchers in the league."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny remembers watching Andujar play on television.

"I heard a lot of great stories on the field as a competitor and stories in the clubhouse, about the personality he was, and as a teammate," Matheny said.

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