Dodger Notebook : Money Doesn't Change Hershiser

Times Staff Writer

Above Orel Hershiser's locker in Dodgertown, someone has transformed his No. 55 into matching dollar signs.

"It looks like something (John) Tudor would do," said the Dodgers' $7.9-million man, who interrupted his first day in camp with a mid-afternoon news conference, although it was beyond him why anyone would want to talk to him.

"I'm old news," he said Monday.

Right. Using that logic, George Bush became old news, too, the day he was elected President.

The World's Wealthiest Baseball Player better get used to the fanfare, because it is as guaranteed as all the zeroes in the contract he signed that he will be under constant scrutiny, right down to his BVD's--the brand of underwear, incidentally, that he is endorsing.

You know how Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda refers to the mound as the hill of thrills? On Monday, Hershiser ran down his hill of shills--all the products that signed him to do endorsements last winter. There's a soft drink tie-in with a pizza company, and there's a baby shampoo, and athletic shoes, and baseball gloves, and watches, and import cars, and import copiers. There's also a computer deal in the works, as well as one for contact lenses.

"I'll make more money in endorsements than I made last year on the field," said Hershiser, who made $1.1 million in 1988 en route to winning the National League's Cy Young Award.

But it was a relief, he said, to return to the field Monday, where he threw lightly for 12 minutes, after enduring a winter of nonstop fawning over his considerable achievements.

"It's really embarrassing, it really is," he said. "Not what you've accomplished, but the way people treat you and what happens after you do it.

" . . . I really know, deep down, that I'm not as good as they say I am. They talk about me as an American hero, the down-to-earth, All-American kid. I cut myself down internally so I don't start believing it.

"It's kind of a false world. Everybody is complimentary and appreciative, but when you go through a whole day with everybody complimenting you, it's fun, but it's not real."

Neither, he said, are the numbers he signed for. "I'm really alienated from the numbers as far as their worth," he said. "You get over that hump at about a million.

"All I saw were numbers on a piece of paper, and what other players were getting."

How to determine the value of a player?

"You're only worth," Hershiser said, "as much as they'll pay you."

And if anyone out there is concerned that his windfall will change him, rest assured: Hershiser said he doesn't plan to alter his life style. He even claims to change the diapers of his infant son, Jordan. Skeptical?

"If you wonder if they smell," Hershiser told reporters, "come on over and I'll give you an exclusive."

Dodger Notes

Willie Randolph, the Dodgers' new second baseman, checked into camp Monday after a harrowing automobile ride. Randolph, who was driving his wife and four children here from New Jersey, had his car sideswiped in North Carolina Saturday during a freak snowstorm there. No one was hurt, Randolph said, although his car was dented and scratched. . . . The rest of the big-league roster is scheduled to arrive today, but the club announced that Kirk Gibson won't get in until late Wednesday night and begin workouts the next day. Technically, players have until March 1 to report.

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