#CardCorner: 1985 Topps Orel Hershiser
But once he was on the field, few pitchers ever competed like Hershiser – who was at his best when the pressure was greatest.
Born Sept. 16, 1958 in Buffalo, N.Y., Hershiser attended high school in Cherry Hill, N.J. and pitched at Bowling Green University in Ohio before being taken in the 17th round of 1979 MLB Draft by the Dodgers.
Groomed as a reliever in the minors, Hershiser earned a call-up to the big leagues in 1983, then worked his way into the Dodgers’ rotation in the early summer of 1984. From his second through seventh starts of his big league career in a 30-day span starting on June 29, Hershiser threw four shutouts, setting the baseball world ablaze with talk of his pinpoint control and unrelenting toughness.
He finished the 1984 season with an 11-8 record and a National League-best four shutouts, placing third in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting. In 1985, he was even better – posting a 19-3 record and a 2.03 ERA to finish third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.
After leading the NL in innings pitched (264.2) in 1987 and earning his first All-Star Game selection, Hershiser put together a season for the ages in 1988. He led the Dodgers to the NL West title with a 23-8 record, including a league-best 15 complete games and eight shutouts. En route, he worked 59 straight scoreless innings – breaking the record of 58 2/3 set by former Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale.
“I never thought I would break this record,” said Hershiser after setting the record with 10 scoreless innings against the Padres on Sept. 28, 1988. “I thought nobody would break this record. But now I think somebody can break it because I’m nobody special.”
But the best was yet to come for Hershiser in the 1988 Postseason.
He totaled 204 wins against 150 losses, posting a 3.48 ERA and 25 shutouts. Hershiser was named to three All-Star Games, won a Gold Glove Award in 1988 and a Silver Slugger Award in 1993.
In the Postseason, Hershiser was 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 22 appearances, including 18 starts. He remains the only player in history to win both the NLCS and ALCS Most Valuable Player Awards.
“To have had the ball in my hand for the last pitch of the World Series and to be the one being mobbed, that was special,” Hershiser told the Associated Press when he retired on July 6, 2000. “The individual awards, they can get dust on them. The championship things, that multiplies.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum