October 19, 1997 in Sports

Hershiser Learns Crime Doesn’t Pay

Jayson Stark Philadelphia Inquirer
 

That’s funny. He doesn’t look like a cheater.

Orel Hershiser? Baseball’s most wanted postseason criminal? Can’t be.

You check out this guy, with his bespectacled Mr. Clean look, and he appears to be the kind of fellow you’d expect to be doing missionary work in Ethiopia.

Or at least adding up all the charitable contributions down at the United Way.

But alas, we can now reveal the painful truth about the man who suffered the worst postseason start of his life in the Cleveland Indians’ 7-4 loss to the Florida Marlins in Game 1 of the World Series.

And that truth is: He’s guilty. Of everything.

OK, maybe not everything. As far as we can tell, Hershiser’s in the clear on Watergate.

But he’s guilty of everything Davey Johnson accused him of during that Orioles series, anyway. And guilty of everything Hershiser’s innocent young teammate, Chad Ogea, semi-accused him of, too.

How do we know? Expert testimony. That’s how.

“Let’s just say he throws an activator ball,” one of Hershiser’s former teammates said Saturday. “That’s about as much as I’ll tell you.”

But being the relentless media interrogators we are around here, we persisted. So how does he do it? That was the big question.

“Hair gel,” said our witness - known to those of us in the trade as Deep Spikes. “That’s all. Just a little hair gel. Believe me. I know other guys who do a lot worse.”

We have no doubt that’s true. But those other guys weren’t starting Game 1 of the World Series Saturday night. Orel Hershiser was. And darn, now that we thought about it, his hair looked great, too.

“If you watch him,” said Deep Spikes, “watch when he takes his hat off during the game. You’ll see his hair is extremely matted down. He puts an excessive amount of hair gel in his hair. And it gives him a little more action, a little more sink.”

Yeah, and it gives a great accent to his natural waviness, too.

“When he goes to his hair, that’s what he’s up to,” said Deep Spikes. “He goes to the back of his hair. He goes to the side of his hair. He sweats, and the sweat gets on his fingers. And then when he needs the activator, there it is.

“Watch him. You’ll see.”

So we watched him, all right. We watched him like a private eye. And we found that this guy goes to his head more than some hair stylists we know.

In the span of one seven-pitch at-bat to Bobby Bonilla in the first inning, Hershiser went to his forehead, his hair or his cap 25 times.

In the second inning, before he ever threw a pitch, he’d done that drill 11 times.

In the third inning, when he got in trouble for the first time, he wiped, rubbed or tugged on those same spots 54 times.

So either he was auditioning for a Brylcreem commercial, or this was a little suspicious.

So knowing what we know, and seeing what we’ve seen, we think we’ve figured out exactly what you call it when Orel Hershiser has a night this rough: A bad hair day. Of course.


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