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Orel Holds Cards That Can Lead to Dodgers’ Success

Look at what we have here. We have Kirk Gibson, a gorilla in our midst. We have Mickey Hatcher, who has more or less become Dodger Rabbit. We have Moose Marshall, who has not gotten this much attention for a hit since Pedro Guerrero hit him .

And, we might sweep the World Series.

We have a postseason pitching rotation of Hershiser, Belcher, Hershiser, Tudor, Hershiser, Hershiser and, in case there’s a seventh game, Hershiser. For extreme emergencies, we have our ace (as opposed to A’s) relief pitcher, Piney Howell, who has been sitting out there in the bullpen in his rocking chair, asphalting his glove, ever since he got his fingers caught in the tar jar.

Two more reasons why we might sweep the World Series.

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We even have Franklin Stubbs at first base. Other teams have Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Will Clark, George Brett, Glenn Davis, Kent Hrbek, Keith Hernandez, Andres Galarraga, Gerald Perry, Alvin Davis or Wally Joyner. We have Franklin Stubbs, who batted .223 during the regular season and .250 during the National League championship series, but knocked in the only run Orel Hershiser needed in Sunday’s game against the Oakland (with a capital O) Athletics.

Boy, are the A’s going to be embarrassed if we sweep the World Series.

We hardly know what to believe about these Los Angeles Dodgers of ours anymore. Wait until you hear what Rick Dempsey, the wry catcher, had to say about Hershiser after Sunday’s shutout. We asked Dempsey for a story, see. Tell us an Orel story, we said. Give us an Orel examination.

Well, sir, we expected a story about Orel Hershiser, Boy Scout troop leader. We expected a story about Orel Hershiser, rescuer of lost kittens, or Orel Hershiser, confined to a rehab clinic for an overdose of chocolate-chip cookies, or Orel Hershiser, who infuriated his next-door neighbor by playing his Perry Como record albums too loud.

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“I have a story,” Dempsey began, “that kind of sums up what kind of man Orel Hershiser is.

“You can tell a lot about a man from the way he gambles. Well, I have seen Orel Hershiser sitting at a gambling table, with $5,000 in his pocket, and seen him wager the whole thing on one hand of baccarat.”

Orel Hershiser? Rick, you sure you mean our Orel Hershiser? After all, there must be a million Orel Hershisers out there.

“Hey, I’ve seen it,” Dempsey said. “At Atlantic City. And the thing about it is, win or lose, you can’t tell what he’s going to do, or how he feels about it. That’s exactly the way he pitches. He’s not afraid of anything. He’s a gambler. He’ll go for broke on one pitch. Nothing fazes the guy. He’s got nerves of steel.

“You wouldn’t think of it to look at him, would you?” Dempsey asked. “He’s kind of a bookworm-looking character.

“But, let me tell you, Orel Hershiser is one of the toughest characters I have ever come across. He’s got the greatest attitude in the world--win, lose or draw. Ten minutes before a game and 10 minutes after, he’s in exactly the same mood.

“And his pitching. I’ve been around forever, and I’ve never seen a pitcher do the things he’s doing. He can do just about anything he pleases. He’s so capable of doing anything he pleases, it’s almost sickening,” Dempsey said.

Even hit.

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Hershiser had as many hits Sunday as the A’s did.

“Yeah, and his weren’t as lucky as theirs were, either,” Dempsey said.

How the world turns. It is spinning right now like a curve ball. The Dodgers were supposed to be lucky to be here. Now, the A’s are lucky just to get 3 hits off them. One minute Jose Canseco is belting balls into the Unocal 76 station in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Next day he’s silent. The Oakland A’s suddenly turn into the Chokeland A’s. Might even get swept.

We hardly know what to believe about these Dodgers anymore. Hatcher homers? Stubby ribbies? One-legged, one-handed homers by Gibson? Hershiser revealed as a high-stakes gambler? What next--Tom Lasorda’s Secret Life as an Aerobics Instructor? Next thing you know, Steve Sax will say he believes in extraterrestrials.

Sax expressed no surprise whatsoever when asked about Hershiser’s seeming ability to do anything he pleases.

“Hey, you should see him ice skate,” Sax said. “He can play hockey. He’s a pool shark. Anything and everything.”

But what about . . . ?

“I can’t stay and talk anymore,” Sax said. “There’s a documentary on TV about extraterrestrials.”

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True story.


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