Back almost 30 years ago, the Dodgers won the World Series, beating Oakland in five games. The most famous play was Kirk Gibson’s home run in game one, but Gibson didn’t win the Series MVP. Orel Hershiser did. It was Hershiser’s year. He set a record with the most scoreless innings pitched in a row, led the Dodgers to the pennant, won the National League playoff MVP, then won the Series MVP, and finished the year off with the NL Cy Young Award. Of course, out of all that came a book: Out of the Blue by Hershiser with Jerry B. Jenkins.
My guess is you’ve read some of this kind of thing. It’s basically a baseball biography of the player, in this case Hershiser, until he gets to the big season and leads his team to victory in the World Series. There are a bunch of these and they’re all pretty much the same. If, by this point, you don’t really care about how the Dodgers won the Series in 1988 or how Hershiser rose from relative obscurity to one of the great one year wonders ever, then you probably think you could care less about this book. You’re wrong.
As I just typed, most of the book is fairly typical of this genre of literature, but there is a single section that makes it different and still interesting for non-1988 freaks. The most interesting part of the book is first 53 pages (specifically section 2 of five), which are a chronicle of how Hershiser prepared to pitch a game. It begins with his getting out of bed, goes through his breakfast routine, his morning, how he got to the park, what he did there to prepare for the game, and ends with him taking the mound. He talks about pitching mechanics, how to prepare for a particular team, his daily regimen, how he deals with his family on game day (and the days he isn’t pitching). It is, all in all, a fascinating look at how a pitcher goes about preparing to do his job. Hershiser reminds us a pitcher doesn’t just show up, grab a ball, warm up, and pitch. If you really think about it, you instinctively know that, but how often do you think about it? Hershiser does a good job letting us in on how it’s done at the big league level.
The book came out in 1989 and is by Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers. I got mine as a gift from my wife, so I have no idea what it cost at the time (there’s no price on the jacket). I still read it every so often when I want to remind myself just how much commitment it takes to be a Big League ball player. For that it’s worth the read. For the other stuff, it’s dated and of interest only if the 1988 season is of particular interest to you. You can probably find it used online or at a library.