Soon we will know who the newest inductees of Baseballís Shrine in Cooperstown will be. Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn are shoe-ins and may be the only ones to receive 75% of the required votes by the Baseball Writers afforded the honor of choosing.
It is my hope that Andre Dawson and Lee Smith get their due this year as well.
OK having satisfied my Cubs quotient for this post, let me move swiftly to the real reason I have broken out of my hibernation here at VFTB. Let me suggest one more name for the Hall.
Orel Leonard Hershiser (IV).
Bulldog garnished but 11% last year, his first year of eligibility. If that figure doesnít increase significantly today, I have my doubts whether he will ever make it. But thinking like that would be counter-productive and it is certainly not the way Hershiser thinks.
The case for his inclusion is well documented by The Baseball Page.com as well as MLB.comís Ken Gurnick.
Hershiser was the unanimous winner of the National League Cy Young Award in 1988 after leading the Dodgers to a World Series title with an NL-best 23 wins, 267 innings, 15 complete games and eight shutouts. His biggest personal achievement was his incredible streak of 59 consecutive scoreless innings to end the regular season, a stretch that broke Don Drysdale’s 20-year record.
He was sixth in the voting for NL Most Valuable Player in 1988, when he was named Major League Baseball Player of the Year and the Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. The awards kept coming in that spectacular 1988 season for a player who kept rising to the occasion, as he also was named Most Valuable Player of the NL Championship Series against the Mets and of the World Series against the Oakland A’s.
Against the Mets, Hershiser picked up a save on no days’ rest and threw a shutout in the Game 7 clincher. He also pitched the World Series clincher. In 12 career post season series, he was 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA.
A three-time All-Star, Hershiser led the NL in innings pitched three consecutive seasons. He finished among the top five in ERA five times. He also finished third in Cy Young voting in 1985 and fourth in both 1987 and 1989. His career mark was 204-150 with a 3.48 ERA, 2,014 strikeouts, 68 complete games and 25 shutouts. His 2.69 earned run average was second only to Dwight Gooden for the decade of the 80ís, besting the likes of Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan.
And Hershiser could do more than pitch. He won a Gold Glove in 1988 and a Silver Slugger Award in 1993.
“Being on the ballot is a lot different than getting in,” Hershiser said. “Only the cream of the crop gets in, and that’s the way it should be. It’s a special place for special accomplishments. It’s one of those places — like Augusta, with the Masters, or the Indy 500 Speedway — when you walk in, you can cut the air with a knife. You know there’s greatness in those places. I’m humbled and honored. It’s the kind of thing you can’t believe has happened to you.”
Faithful readers of this site know full well of my fondness for Greg Maddux. I feel that same affinity for Hershiser and hope some day he will have his plaque hanging in Cooperstown as well.