The Dodgers on Friday announced two additions to the “Legends of Dodger Baseball,” with Manny Mota and Orel Hershiser honored at Dodger Stadium during the 2023 season.
Each will receive a plaque that will be on permanent display in the centerfield plaza at Dodger Stadium.
This is the third year the Dodgers have inducted players into Legends of Dodger Baseball, with Steve Garvey, Don Newcombe, and Fernando Valenzuela part of the inaugural class in 2019, followed by Maury Wills and Kirk Gibson last year.
Valenzuela will receive a new honor in August, with his number 34 retired by the team.
Mota will be honored before the Dodgers’ game on Saturday, April 29 against the Cardinals.
His career spanned over 50 years with the Dodgers in various roles, including the final 13 of his 18 major league seasons as a player, then as a first base coach and later a broadcaster. Mota could often be seen at Dodgers spring training, first in Vero Beach and then in Arizona, riding his famous tricycle around the camp.
The Dominican outfielder hit .315/.374/.391 with a 118 wRC+ with the Dodgers, and Mota made his only career All-Star team in 1973 while with Los Angeles. He was a part of three Dodgers pennant-winning teams, and his two-out, pinch-hit RBI double off the left field wall (and Greg Luzinski’s glove) in Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS helped spur a three-run rally in the ninth inning to beat the Phillies.
Mota broke Smokey Burgess’ all-time major league pinch-hit record in 1979 and ended his career with 149 pinch hits, which now ranks third all-time. His career .300/.375/.368 line as a pinch-hitter was right in line with his career mark of .304/.355/.389 in 18 years with the Giants, Pirates, Expos, and Los Angeles.
Mota was named to the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022.
“I don’t consider myself a legend, just another person who always tried to contribute to the Dodgers and give my best,” Mota, who turns 85 on February 18, said in a statement. “I am humbled and really appreciate what the Dodgers are doing for me. I consider Dodger Stadium my home away from home, and I consider myself to be an adopted son of the Dodger organization.”
Legends of Dodger Baseball inductees
Hershiser will be honored at Dodger Stadium before the July 29 game against the Reds, a franchise the right-hander posted a career 3.16 against in 256⅓ innings. Hershiser’s 16 wins against Cincinnati were his third-most against any team, behind only San Francisco (22) and Atlanta (20).
Even if Hershiser’s only contribution to the Dodgers was 1988, that would have been enough to warrant membership among the “Legends of Dodger Baseball,” with his record 59 consecutive scoreless innings and leading the Dodgers to their sixth World Series title.
In addition to winning the National League Cy Young Award, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP that year, Hershiser did so much more for the franchise.
He pitched 13 years for the Dodgers, and his 309 starts for Los Angeles ranks 10th in franchise history, his 1,456 strikeouts seventh-most in team history. He’s been a television analyst for the team on SportsNet LA since 2014.
Hershiser finished in the top four in Cy Young voting four times in a five-year span (1985-89). That included 1989 despite a 15-15 record, because he continued to excel on the mound despite putrid run support. Hershiser in both 1988 and 1989 posted a 149 ERA+, issued 63 unintentional walks, and struck out 178 batters while leading the league in innings pitched and batters faced. But his record didn’t reflect the performance, thanks in large part in losing seven straight decisions down the stretch while the Dodgers scored six total runs in eight Hershiser starts.
“The joke back then was, my team was trying to break my scoreless streak,” Hershiser told me in 2019. “I thought ‘89 was a better year than ‘88 personally, because my ERA was only [five-hundredths] of a point higher, and I didn’t have the 59 scoreless. As far as consistency, it was a better year.”
Hershiser won his first seven career postseason decisions, which included 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 58 innings for the Dodgers. His run to the championship in 1988 included two shutouts, three complete games, and even a surprise save in the 12th inning of Game 4 of the NLCS to even the series against the Mets.
From August 19 through the end of the 1988 World Series, Hershiser was 10-1 with a minuscule 0.65 ERA in 124⅔ innings in only 63 days.
“This is the part of life that you never imagined. To think I was drafted in the 17th round in 1979 and here now I am still representing this great organization. The Dodgers have been one of the most important parts of my life,” Hershiser said in a statement. “I love my teammates, I love this organization and I love you fans. The experiences that I’ve had in uniform on and off the field have taken my life to places I never thought I could go. Thank you so much for this recognition and God bless all of you.”