On Sept. 28, 1988, 25 years ago Saturday, Orel Hershiser broke one of the most unbreakable records in baseball. He passed former Dodger Don Drysdale by pitching 59 consecutive scoreless innings, and needed 10 scoreless innings against the Padres in San Diego to do it.
The Dodgers clinched the division two days earlier at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, so the focus was squarely on Hershiser in his final start of the season.
Hershiser allowed just four hits through nine innings but the game was scoreless, thanks to Andy Hawkins matching Hershiser pitch for pitch. Through nine innings he was tied with Drysdale, who was broadcasting the game. Per Sam McManis of the Los Angeles Times:
"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."
Hershiser did pitch the 10th inning, and started by striking out Marvell Wynne, but a third-strike wild pitch allowed Wynne to reach base. Benito Santiago sacrificed Wynne into scoring position, then Randy Ready grounded out to advance Wynne to third base.
Garry Templeton was intentionally walked, the only free pass of the night by Hershiser, to get to the pitcher's spot, putting runners at the corners. But Hershiser got pinch hitter Keith Moreland to fly out to right fielder Jose Gonzalez to break the record and get to 59 innings.
Bill Plaschke of the LA Times shadowed Drysdale that night, who was calling the game:
"I told myself I would not say anything to him about it, and I haven't," he said. "On the postgame show, I've asked him how he feels, and things like that, but I've never talked to him about now it's 40, now it's 49, that kind of thing. I didn't want that monkey on my back when I pitched, and I wouldn't put it on his back."
Later in the interview room, a couple of reporters attempted to speak to Drysdale while the new record-holder was talking. Drysdale pointed to Hershiser.
"You listen to him now," he said.
The Dodgers eventually lost the game 2-1 in 16 innings, but history was made. Hershiser lowered his ERA from 2.90 to 2.26 during the streak and would unanimously win the National League Cy Young Award. During the streak, 41 of his 59 innings came on the road.
|Sept. 28 at Padres