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Out of the Blue: Orel Hershiser Hardcover – April, 1989
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Orel Hershiser is proof that great things can happen to ordinary people if they work hard an never give up. But it's not as easy as it looks. Learn what it's like to be a big leaguer, a pitcher, a Dodger, and discover his sources of strength and faith. So slip into his uniform and be him for a couple of hundred pages.
Top customer reviews
But being from Omaha, Nebraska where the College World Series is played every year, I'm a big fan of the CWS. While I lived in Omaha I went to the CWS games every chance I could. Now, living in Oregon, I watch them on TV. Orel Hershiser is one of the commentators for the games. In his chit-chatting in the booth one day he mentioned he'd written a book. Since I was impressed with his knowledge of the game, I ordered it and am about half-way through it right now. I had no idea he'd been THAT good of a pitcher!
Whether you are a serious sports fan or a casual observer like I am, I think you'll find yourself enjoying the process of learning about the nitty-gritty of a great pitcher's life.
Where many book's start out strong from a story telling aspect, I feel Orel's book started out slow, really slow, like a fastball from a retired knuckleballer. I had began to wonder where the story was going, as it started with some introductory points and worked its way through a look at his personal life, right before it made me feel like I was dropped in the middle of a heated pennant race. A heated race that was seemed not nearly as important as what was a happening every time that Orel took the mound for the Dodgers. It is at this point in the book you find yourself overlooking the beginning introduction, the pats on the back and the preaching points that with recent news seems contradicting. However, it is at this point in the book where I am finding myself back in love with the famed games of my youth. I am looking at Orel the way I remember looking at him, like the way anyone would feel standing next to America's last boy, Mickey Mantle in his prime. The book talks about Don Drysdale encouragement and desire to see Orel best his record. It shows how Don stood in support of Orel and told him it couldn't have happened to anyone better; it is in this part of the book I find myself wanting to stand with Orel and congratulate him (as if I was of someone of importance, where my congrats would be respected and acknowledged as special).
In this book Orel opens us up to his life, where he found his ability to find confidence and a look at the people who faced him, mattered to him and helped shaped him. Its here we we learn how he become one of the few unique pitchers who beautifully could surprise batters with his unique rhythm and ability randomize and strategize. He gracefully walks you through the mind of a starting pitcher, a man against odds and a major league player.
His own story is one who came out of the blue, but worked hard in life and achieved great things. His book encourages and helps us face odds and overcome them. He reminds us of his method, focus on one pitch at a time. No longer will we say Don Drysdale was a great pitcher, no, we will remember that Orel was a great pitcher.
I recommend this book and give it 3.5 out of five stars.
After relating how he was given the nickname 'Bulldog' (which he didn't like) by the always entertaining Tommy Lasorda, Hershiser starts the book by talking about his approach to pitching. He breaks it down into five parts: attitude, mechanics, strategy, regimen and game day. I've never been a pitcher, and while I understood what he was conveying and why it was important, I didn't find it very interesting. Since that's about 25% of the book, well, not good.
He talks a bit about growing up and getting into baseball, including his first failed attempt at college. I don't mean as a pitcher: I mean, life. He discusses how he found Jesus (Hershiser is an overt Christian) and met his future wife, Jaime.
The remainder of the book is about the streak and the fantastic 1988 post season Hershiser and the Dodgers enjoyed. This squad has been called the weakest World Series winning lineup in the modern era (be quiet, Bob Costas). But it beat the heavily favored Mets of Doc Gooden and Daryl Strawberry. And Kirk Gibson's improbable home run in game one led them to a stunning upset of the Oakland A's, starring Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire during their Bash Brothers glory days.
The main flaw I found in this book was that it didn't really convey the drama of the post season. A Dodgers fan, I was surprised to find out that Gibson wasn't even in uniform for most of game one of the World Series. So, Hershiser gives you some behind the scenes stuff. But you're not spellbound with a "what happens next?" feeling, which so many good baseball books do.
Of course, 1988 wasn't the end of his career. He went on to win another 121 games over 12 more seasons, helping the Cleveland Indians reach their first World Series in forty-one years. He is currently a pretty good analyst at ESPN.
I am a fan of Hershiser as both a pitcher and a Christian, and Hershiser's scoreless inning streak and the Dodgers' run to the World Series are great moments in the team's storied history, but this is just an okay baseball book. I'm glad I read it, but I don't expect to be drawn back to it again.