Read Between Lines by Orel Hershiser

Saturday, May 9, 2020
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2020

This week I listened to Between Lines: Nine Things Baseball Taught Me About Life by Orel Leonard Hershiser, IV. Although the book has plenty of baseball, Hershiser shared his philosophy about life.

In 1983 when I was 12, I first saw a scrawny young right-hander named Orel Hershiser. Despite his unimpressive appearance and funny name, the ground-ball pitcher impressed me. From the beginning of being a baseball fan, I have preferred ground-ball pitchers than strikeout pitchers.

While most Dodger fans went “wow” for Fernando Valenzuela, I preferred “Bulldog” Hershiser. Valenzuela dazzled the large crowds with his screwball, but frequently, Valenzuela struggled in early innings so that he threw more than 140 pitches a game. His high pitch counts led to his shoulder injury occurred in 1988 and shortened his dominance. Although I believe Valenzuela belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame, his ongoing shoulder and control problems prevent his induction.

Hershiser’s dominance began slowly. He rarely struck out more than five hitters in a game, but he got outs quickly. Although Hershiser had radical shoulder surgery in 1990 that no one knew if Hershiser could return, he rarely threw more than 140 pitches a game. His control usually was fantastic.

No Dodger fan will ever forget what Hershiser did in 1988, including 59 consecutive scoreless innings. He was magnificent. Although Kirk Gibson won the National League MVP, Hershiser’s remarkable pitching performance in 1988 enabled the Los Angeles Dodgers to become world champions.

Hershiser recognizes if he did not have good coaches throughout his life, he would not have accomplished what he did in his baseball playing career. His strive for excellence instilled in him from childhood enabled Hershiser to have a successful 17-year Major-League career.

Hershiser also talked about treating every person with respect and finding a balance between baseball and family. Since baseball can be all-consuming, finding a balance between baseball and personal life is difficult even for writers.

I highly recommend Between Lines: Nine Things Baseball Taught Me about Life to everyone regardless if he is a baseball fan.

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