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Sports Weekend | TV-RADIO

Hershiser Flawless in New Field

August 10, 2001|LARRY STEWART

It always seemed inevitable that Orel Hershiser would end up in broadcasting. Smart, glib, confident--he had all the attributes.

About the only person who wasn't sure about what Hershiser would do after his playing career was over was Hershiser.

He thought about possibly a front-office job in baseball, or maybe an on-field job. Broadcasting was third.

"There are two or three things you can do after your playing days are over," Hershiser said. "Broadcasting was my last choice."

After 17 years in the major leagues, he retired in June 2000. The 204-game winner had returned to the Dodgers and was 1-5 with a 13.14 earned-run average when it became apparent his playing days were over. The Dodgers retained him as a player-personnel consultant.

But that job didn't last long.

"I went down to triple-A Albuquerque for five days as a volunteer pitching instructor and scout," he said. "There really wasn't much for me to do. Things just didn't work out."

Hershiser filed one report. And that was that.

Hershiser and the Dodgers agreed to talk during the off-season. Surely, there was a job for him.

But ABC hired Hershiser to work as a commentator with Brent Musburger on last year's Little League World Series and the broadcasting bug bit. Then came an offer from ESPN, Hershiser's current employer.

He says he has a one-year contract with a one-year option.

Will he stay in broadcasting?

"I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "I'm enjoying this and leaving my options open."

Hershiser, who lives near Orlando, Fla., was back at Dodger Stadium Sunday night, working in the ESPN2 booth with Musburger on the Dodgers' 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Chicago Cubs.

"I loved seeing everybody," he said. "That's the part I miss the most, the people. I don't miss getting my ears pinned back."

Hershiser moved to Windermere, Fla., after signing with the Cleveland Indians in 1995.

"It's only 45 minutes from where the Indians train in Winter Haven, so it gave me six more weeks to be with my family."

Hershiser and his wife of 20 years, Jamie, have two sons, Quinton, 16, and Jordan, 12. Jordan is a Little League all-star, while Quinton is more studious.

"He takes after Jamie," Hershiser said, pointing out his wife graduated summa cum laude from Iowa.

As for Hershiser, he's doing exactly what many people thought he would be doing. And he still has a good delivery, only now it's coming from the booth.

Shifting Gears

You talk to someone like Hershiser and feel pretty good about the human race. Then you turn on sports talk radio and wonder if the empire is crumbling.

What is it about putting a microphone in front of someone and giving them a free rein for three or four hours? Why does it make sane people go nuts?

Take, for example, the Sporting News network's Papa Joe Chevalier, who is heard on KMPC (1540). He seems to be a nice enough guy off the air, but put him near a microphone and it sounds as if someone has taken an air pump and inflated his ego.

On Wednesday, he said John Dowd, the baseball attorney who gathered evidence against Pete Rose, was a liar. Why? Because Dowd, a guest Tuesday morning with the Sporting News network's Jay Mariotti and Jim Litke, said that was the only show he was going to do. Then Papa Joe heard him on another show that evening.

From that, Papa Joe concluded that nothing Dowd said could be believed. A caller tried to point out Papa Joe's thinking was flawed, that Dowd simply had a change of heart. Papa Joe, as usual, threw a tantrum and wouldn't let the caller get in a word edgewise.

Instant Classic

The Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners played an incredible game Sunday night, when the Indians became the first team since 1925 to overcome a 12-run deficit and win.

For those who missed the game, ESPN Classic will replay it Monday at 6 p.m. and also show highlights of other memorable sports comebacks.

HBO Rallies

Speaking of comebacks, HBO's new reality series, "Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Baltimore Ravens," had a big one this week. The first of the six shows last week was a little dry, but the worst thing was the timing. The show, featuring training camp frivolity, was already in the can when it was learned that the Minnesota Vikings' Korey Stringer had died.

This week's show was riveting throughout. It included a segment in which viewers got to see firsthand what former Arizona and Long Beach Jordan quarterback Ortege Jenkins had to go through when he got cut. Jenkins fortunately handled it well, calling it "a learning experience."

Short Waves

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