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59 : Hershiser Sets Record With Something Extra

September 29, 1988|SAM McMANIS | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — That slender right arm, the one that had just been responsible for setting a major league record of 59 consecutive scoreless innings by a pitcher, was raised briefly in celebration, as if on display for all the baseball world to see.

The rest of Orel (emphasis on the O) Hershiser, the pitcher to which that famous arm belonged, was being swarmed by his Dodger teammates as he strolled to the visitors' dugout Wednesday night after he had not only equaled but surpassed Don Drysdale's 20-year-old record with 10 scoreless innings in a game that the San Diego Padres eventually won, 2-1, in 16 innings.

After the 10th, the Dodgers enveloped Hershiser, who allowed only 4 hits and struck out 3, in waves of blue. But they made certain not to harm that arm. It is far too valuable. It has enabled the 30-year-old Hershiser to supplant a Hall of Fame pitcher as the holder of one of baseball's most hallowed records, equated by many with Joe DiMaggio's 56-game 1941 hitting streak in degree of difficulty.

Where have you gone, Don Drysdale?

Well, Drysdale, now a Dodger broadcaster, was among the greeting party awaiting Hershiser after he forced pinch-hitter Keith Moreland to fly to right fielder Jose Gonzalez for the third out in the 10th inning of a then-scoreless tie between the Dodgers and the Padres.

Drysdale gave Hershiser a bear hug. So did Manager Tom Lasorda, pitching coach Ron Perranoski and each Dodger player. It was a repeat, though with far more feeling, of the celebration bestowed upon Hershiser an inning earlier, when he tied Drysdale's record.

"I never thought I would break this record," Hershiser said. "I thought nobody would break this record. But now, I think somebody can break it from me, because I'm nobody special."

Hershiser spoke those words with what appeared to be total sincerity. Also in all sincerity, he said that he did not want to break Drysdale's record, just tie it.

When Hershiser recorded the second out in the 10th inning, he said he wanted to come out of the game.

Had he done that, he would have stopped--unofficially--at 58, which is where Drysdale's 1968 streak ended. But the record book simply shows Drysdale with 58 innings, because--according to a recent decision by the league office--a partial inning pitched by a starter does not count if a run is scored later in the inning and charged to him.

"I really didn't want to break it," Hershiser said. "I wanted to stop at 58. I wanted me and Don to be together at the top. But the higher sources (Lasorda and Perranoski) told me they weren't taking me out of the game, so I figured, what the heck, I might as well get the guy out."

Drysdale, always the competitive type, laughed when told of Hershiser's statement.

"I'd have kicked him right in the rear if I'd have known that," Drysdale said. "I'd have told him to get his buns out there and get them."

Previous talk of pitching Hershiser in relief over the weekend, should he need the chance to break the record, became moot because of Hershiser's most dominating outing of the 6 scoreless starts he has had during the streak.

To erase Drysdale's name from the record books, Orel Leonard Hershiser IV didn't even need to pitch Shutout VI. He left the game after the 10th inning, as did many in the crowd of 22,596 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

But, making it tough for himself, Hershiser needed 4 outs in that 10th inning to do it.

He struck out Marvell Wynne to open the inning, but the third strike bounced in front and then over catcher Mike Scioscia to the screen. Wynne sped to first base on the wild pitch.

"It was a definite letdown," Hershiser said of the wild pitch on the strikeout. "At first, I didn't think the guy swung. Then, I saw (plate umpire) Joe West call it a strike, and I knew the guy was on first. I just told myself to bear down and go get them."

Benito Santiago moved Wynne to second with a sacrifice bunt, which Hershiser fielded. He tossed to first baseman Franklin Stubbs for the first out.

Randy Ready then grounded to shortstop Alfredo Griffin, Wynne taking third base on the throw. At that point, Perranoski, Scioscia, Sax and third baseman Jeff Hamilton converged on the mound, and it was decided that Garry Templeton would be walked.

Keith Moreland was sent up to pinch-hit for Padre pitcher Andy Hawkins, who had a 4-hitter at that point. Moreland took Hershiser's first pitch, a strike, and Templeton advanced to second base without drawing a throw.

Moreland then took another called strike. After a foul ball and a ball, Moreland lofted Hershiser's next pitch into right field, where Gonzalez, a late-inning defensive replacement, caught it.

For a moment, Hershiser remained rooted to the ground with his hands on both knees. Then, he grasped Scioscia's extended hand and walked to the dugout, seemingly taking in the scene.

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