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Home / Sports / Orel Hershiser inducted into Legends of Dodger Baseball

Orel Hershiser inducted into Legends of Dodger Baseball

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Orel Hershiser was inducted into the Legends of Dodger Baseball Saturday, honored for his 13 seasons pitching for the team, especially his memorable 1988 season.

Hershiser called the approximately 35-minute ceremony preceding the Dodgers’ game against the Cincinnati Reds as “a celebration of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, because I am truly an organizational player. I was a suspect, not a prospect.”

“If I wasn’t drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, you would not be seeing Orel Hershiser right now,” said Hershiser, who was chosen in the 17th round of the 1979 Major League Baseball draft out of Bowling Green University, the 440th selection overall. “Because what this organization did was it gave me people around me that were trying to achieve excellence every single day.

“I’m an accumulation of great examples, great people and great expectations.”

Hershiser also praised the late Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, who during a 1984 game gave Hershiser the nickname “Bulldog,” and “made me act like it,” in an effort to get him to adopt a tougher attitude on the mound.

“He took me everywhere,” Hershiser said. “When we won our 20th game (in 1988), he picked up the phone in his office and called the White House and had President Reagan say thank you to me and congratulations. He was my baseball father.”

Lasorda’s words paid a quick dividend. After going 11-8 with a 2.66 ERA in 1984, his first full major league season, Hershiser was 19-3 for a major league-leading .864 winning percentage and a 2.03 ERA in 1985, helping lead the Dodgers to the National League West championship.

Hershiser also thanked the late Dr. Frank Jobe for performing shoulder reconstruction surgery on Hershiser on April 27, 1990, to repair torn labrum, the first time the procedure had been performed on a major league player. He also thanked then-Dodgers’ physical therapist Pat Screnar, who attended the ceremony, for overseeing his rehabilitation.

The ceremony was hosted by Hershiser’s broadcast partner Joe Davis.

“When people ask me, ‘What’s Orel like?’ there’s a story that I like to tell them to answer it,” Davis said.

“It’s Orel’s 60th birthday (in 2018). We’re in St. Louis, we decided to go out for dinner to celebrate. It’s a group of about eight of us, his wife Dana, several of us from the TV crew and then randomly two of my college buddies that all decided tag along.

“So we get to dinner. A couple of hours in, it feels like it’s time for the birthday toasts. But instead of all of us toasting the birthday boy, Orel goes around the table, toasting us one by one, including my two college buddies that he had met like an hour ago and he tells us all why we’re special to him. That’s the most thoughtful, generous person that I know.”

Dodger broadcaster Rick Monday, a teammate of Hershiser when he made his major league debut with the Dodgers on Sept. 1, 1983, and retired Dodger broadcaster Jaime Jarrín joined Hershiser and Davis in speaking at the ceremony.

The ceremony also included recorded tributes from several of Hershiser’s teammates from the Dodgers’ 1988 World Series championship team, including Kirk Gibson, Mike Scioscia and Steve Sax, and an approximately 3 1/2-minute video tribute narrated by actor Rob Lowe.

Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax and Basketball Hall of Fame member Ann Meyers Drysdale, the widow of the late Dodger Hall of Fame pitcher-turned broadcaster Don Drysdale, who Hershiser called a mentor, were among the guests attending the ceremony.

Orel Hershiser, fourth from left, stands with other Legends of Dodger Baseball. | Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers/Twitter

Hershiser had his best season in 1988, when he became the first pitcher to win the National League Cy Young Award, National League Championship Series MVP and World Series MVP.

Hershiser concluded that regular season with a major league-record 59 consecutive scoreless innings, breaking Drysdale’s previous record of 58 2/3 innings set in 1968. Hershiser won a career-high 23 games, pitched a major league-leading 15 complete games and eight shutouts — including five in a row — and was selected the National League Cy Young Award winner by a unanimous vote.

Hershiser was selected the National League Championship Series MVP for pitching a five-hit shutout in Game 7 as the Dodgers completed an upset of the heavily favored New York Mets. He was selected World Series MVP for shutting out the highly favored Oakland Athletics in Game 2 and recording a complete-game victory in the series-clinching victory in Game 5.

In 1988, Hershiser became the first (and only) pitcher to be named National League Cy Young Award winner, National League Championship Series MVP and World Series MVP. No one has accomplished a similar feat in the American League.

Hershiser played with the Cleveland Indians from 1995-97, posting a 45-21 record and being selected MVP of the 1995 American League Championship Series. After pitching for the San Francisco Giants in 1998 and the New York Mets in 1999, he completed his playing career in 2000 with the Dodgers.

Hershiser is seventh in Dodger history with 1,456 strikeouts, ninth in shutouts with 24 and 10th in games started with 309.

Hershiser was the Texas Rangers’ pitching coach from 2002 through 2005, an ESPN broadcaster from 2006-13 and a Dodger broadcaster on SportsNet LA since 2014.

The Legends of Dodger Baseball was established in 2018 to recognize Dodger greats and their impact on the franchise, both on and off the field. Inductees receive a plaque honoring their Dodger achievements, which will be on permanent display at Dodger Stadium.

Hershiser is the seventh inductee. Don Newcombe, Steve Garvey and Fernando Valenzuela were inducted in 2019. Maury Wills and Kirk Gibson were inducted in 2022. Manny Mota was inducted April 29.

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