To celebrate the beginning of the MLB’s 147th season, we are revisiting our chat with legendary Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser. Orel’s road to domination was not smooth, but he challenged anyone who doubted him, earning him the nickname “Bulldog” for his scrappiness. After being selected in the 17th round of the 1984 draft by the Dodgers, Orel came to be one of the best pitchers of all time, breaking Don Drysdale’s 59 inning scoreless streak, winning the Cy Young, Gold Glove, and World Series MVP in 1988, a season Andy covered as team photographer. After 18 MLB seasons, Orel moved to the front office as the Texas Rangers’ associate general manager and pitching coach. After years (and an Emmy) at ESPN covering MLB games and Little League and College World Series, he returned to the Dodgers on SportsNet LA (SNLA), where he is entering his tenth season as a color commentator and analyst.
Hear Orel’s stories of broadcasting with SNLA’s Joe Davis, getting cut in high school and college and hitchhiking home from Bowling Green State, “baseball dad” Coach Tommy Lasorda, his proudest and favorite seasons, professional poker and its similarities to pitching, faith and baseball, pitching injuries and coming back in ‘91, unbreakable records (like Cal Ripken’s and Cy Young’s), and so much more on today’s classic episode of Legends Of Sport. Original Release Date: August 6, 2018.
Other Topics Discussed in this Episode:
3:11 Going from the Rangers to ESPN, and finally back to the Dodgers where he could “root for somebody” while broadcasting
6:01 Growing up as an underdog
“It helped, it built a lot of calluses. It built a work ethic. It built my passion and love for the sport. So no matter if I was getting cut or not one of the best guys, it gave me a lot of energy and passion to say you know what, I love the sport no matter where I am on the team. And you know what really happened is I would reach the end of every kind of class, meaning like 6th grade, I ended up being pretty good. At the end of high school I ended up being pretty good. By my junior year in college I ended up being pretty good. So I would get rewarded a little bit for the hard work every three or four years, but it really just did pan out to feeling like you know what, hard work does pay off, being the underdog is okay, that motivation factor, compared to being depressed and giving up, is the right way to go, and I just believe champions and heroes, they experience fear, they experience difficulty, they experience tough times, but those guys, they never give up. And that kind of mentality kind of got developed in me.”
8:21 Tommy Lasorda’s lessons for Orel’s first season, giving him the nickname “Bulldog”
11:37 The Baseball Hall of Fame
“The Hall of Fame, you know what, I got cut from my high school team, I got cut from my college team until my Junior year. I made it to the big leagues, that’s enough, that’s my Hall of Fame, anything that happened after that was a great team accomplishment.”
15:17 The 1988 team dynamic with Kirk Gibson
29:53 Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and other idols
31:39 His winning pitching philosophy
32:16 Facing the best batters (like Tony Gwynn) without fear
“I never was really in awe of guys. There was a time at the end of my career, cause I pitched til I was almost 42 that I am like just naked out here on the mound and I don’t know how I’m gonna get this guy out so… I just gotta go and do my thing, and kinda hope, maybe some intimidation and some respect that I’m at a much higher level than my prime, when I absolutely know I got donkey doo… It’s really interesting to know a game inside and out and study it your whole life and still get to walk out on a field with the world’s best and know you’re not even close to the best, it’s a different place to be, you really have to play a fantasy game with yourself… go out there and be brave enough to go face these guys.”
34:42 A 1993 Silver Slugger award winner, Orel shares an incredible story about the only homerun ball he recovered thanks to his mother’s negotiating skills
36:52 Learning his name’s surprise meaning from Martina Navratilova
Hear inspiring pieces of baseball history from an all-time great on this classic episode of Legends Of Sport.