Orel Hershiser, standing on the field at Dodger Stadium and looking up at the seats, soaked in memories.
“Yes, a lot of fond memories,” he said.
Hershiser would throw out the ceremonial first pitch on this night and hear the cheers one more time.
There was a time, particularly in 1988, when he was probably the most popular Dodger. That season, he led the National League with 23 wins, and had only eight losses. That season he also had a record 59 consecutive shutout innings and led the Dodgers to a World Series championship.
Hershiser, who retired in 2000, joined the Texas Rangers before the 2002 season as a special assistant to John Hart, then the team’s general manager. He became the team’s pitching coach in 2003 when Buck Showalter became manager.
Last fall he was a candidate for the Dodgers’ managerial job but returned to the Rangers in a front-office position. In February, he jumped to ESPN, signing a four-year contract to work as a game and studio baseball commentator. His next game assignment is scheduled for Wednesday, when the New York Mets will be in Philadelphia to play the Phillies.
As Hershiser stood on the field before the Dodgers played the New York Mets on Tuesday night, he talked about his latest career move.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “Other broadcasters have gone full circle and gone back into coaching. I know that I’m very dedicated to broadcasting and love what I’m doing.”
And he is good at it.
Hershiser, working in the studio this week, is insightful and articulate.
During his playing days, he was always comfortable in front of a microphone, and no one could ever question his knowledge of the game. He beat you with his smarts as much as he beat you with his arm.
Hershiser’s last full season with the Dodgers was 1994. He went to Cleveland and had three successful seasons there, then so-so seasons with the San Francisco Giants and the Mets before returning for a brief stint with the Dodgers in 2000.
After retiring, he dabbled in broadcasting. He did commentary for ESPN on the Little League World Series in 2000 and 2001. He also worked on ESPN’s “Wednesday Night Baseball” in 2001.
He lives in the Dallas area and plans to stay there at least until his youngest son, Jordan, a high school junior and pitching prospect, goes off to college.
Hershiser’s older son, Quinton, is a junior at Baylor and majoring in communications. Quinton’s full name is Orel Hershiser V, but as a youngster he was called “Quint” to signify the fifth. The name evolved into Quinton.
Hershiser said he and his wife have been divorced for a year and a half but share custody.
Hershiser wasn’t at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night just to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He was there mainly to help promote a new kind of credit card that allows customers to hold it in front of a “reader” and not worry about swiping, signing or entering a pin.
Hershiser used the card to buy sodas and hot dogs for about 20 selected fans. One young fan said to him, “I was 1 year old when you were in the World Series.”
Added Hershiser, " ... when I was someone.”
He still is.