Hardball Heroes is More Hardball's version of the Hall of Fame. Players who qualify for this distinction must have demonstrated exceptional athleticism and sportsmanship on and off the field, however are not likely to be recognized in the Hall of Fame. This month, we celebrate the awesomeness that is Orel "Bulldog" Hershiser.
Best remembered for his stellar 1988 season, excellent control on the mound, and a wicked sinker, Orel Leonard Hershiser IV made his Major League debut on September 1, 1983 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was soon given the nickname 'Bulldog' by coach Tommy Lasorda in the hopes of encouraging his tenacious spirit. Hershiser became a starter for the Dodgers the next season. That year, he was voted third for the NL Rookie of the Year. In 1985, Hershiser pitched 19 wins and 3 losses, and his career best 2.03 era. In 1987, he earned his first of three All Star titles.
By 1988, Hershiser was an unstoppable force, earning 23 wins (1st in the league) and his second All Star appearance. He pitched 15 complete games(1st in the league), earned 8 shutouts, and was named the Cy Young Award and Golden Glove winner. The '88 season also saw Hershiser pitching 59 consecutive scoreless innings. He was integral in the Dodgers' NL Championship, and in their World Series triumph over the Oakland Athletics where he named NCLS and World Series MVP.
The following season saw his third and final All Star appearance and another consideration for the Cy Young Award. In 1990, Hershiser experienced a potentially career ending shoulder reconstruction surgery, and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. He made a successful return the following season, but never attained his pre-surgery greatness. However, in 1993, he picked up a Silver Slugger award for his .356 batting average (26 hits in 73 at bats). After 12 seasons with the Dodgers, Hershiser was traded in 1995 to the Cleveland Indians where he spent the next three seasons, leading the franchise to two ALCS championships (1995 and 1997), and himself an ACLS MVP award in 1995. In 1998, he spent a season with the Giants before being traded to the Mets, where he again saw post-season play. In 2000, Hershiser returned to the Dodgers, retiring from baseball on June 26th. In total, he earned 106 additional wins after his surgery. His 18-year career stats includes a win-loss record of 204-150, 3.48 era, 3130.1 ip, 2014 k, and a 1.264 whip.
His post baseball career includes time as an analyst for ESPN, and pitching coach and Executive Director for the Texas Rangers (2002 - 2005). Hershiser also participates in competitive poker, even moving to Las Vegas to be closer to the tables. He has proved himself to be as tenacious a card shark as he was a pitcher, winning several tournaments, and earning finalist positions in many others. Always known for his kindness and giving, he contributes to many charities including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Hershiser also makes the motivational tour circuit speaking to others about courage and and faith in Christ. He is also the author of two books: his 1989 best-selling autobiography, Out of the Blue, and his 2002 best-seller, Between the Lines: Nine Things Baseball Taught Me About Life. Hershiser is the father of two sons, Orel Leonard V, and Jordan (who is a baseball player at the University of Southern California).
Check Out Hershiser's Awesome Dance Moves in this radical '80s video!
Baseball Boogie - As Performed by the 1986 Los Angeles Dodgers