Hershiser Won’t Auction Record-Breaking Baseball After All

Every sports memorabilia collector eventually prunes his stash (I did it once, in 1985, and I still have misgivings).

But rarely does one of us consign a singular item to an auction house, let the process go along so far that the piece gets photographed and included in the auction catalogue – and then have the misgivings and withdraw the item.

Such a collector is Orel Hershiser. The 1988 Cy Young Winner, still the owner of baseball’s streak for consecutive scoreless innings pitched, now part of the instant classic that is the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball trio with Dan Shulman and Terry Francona, has been for nearly all of his 53 years another one of us – the accumulators and protectors and pack-rats of the cherished relics of the game. I’ve been swapping cards with him since about 1987.

But Bulldog is more than just a card and autograph collector. Unlike nearly every other one of us, he also has a real baseball career beyond the onlooker status of his colleagues. Hershiser has kept countless terrific, even unique, items from his playing days, and had just reached that “pruning” moment. In an upcoming Grey Flannel Auctions sale, he is selling several dozen uniforms, jackets, gloves, trophies, baseballs, and even card sets (’70s O-Pee-Chee Hockey – I mean, this is a collector).

But it turns out he is not selling the baseball with which he established that consecutive scoreless innings streak in 1988:As you see, the scoreless streak ball is in the Grey Flannels Auction catalogue. But you can’t put in a bid, for $2500 or any other amount. At the company’s website, Lot 369 is nowhere to be found.

The auction house explained to me today that Orel just couldn’t bear to part with it. That would be a natural emotion for any of us collectors, so one can only imagine the emotional tug when it’s the baseball you threw to set the record which happens to be yours. I mean, I own the ball that pinch-hitter Cookie Lavagetto bazooka’d off the right field fence at Ebbets Field with two outs in the ninth inning when Bill Bevens of the Yankees was an out away from the first World Series no-hitter, in Game 4 of the ’47 classic, but that doesn’t make me Lavagetto, Bevens, or even a witness. I just own a neat baseball. Imagine having pitched the neat baseball (or hit it).

As mentioned, Hershiser is auctioning off a lot of such neatness, including his SPORT Magazine 1988 World Series MVP Trophy and other items from his other days with the Mets, Giants, and Indians. But the scoreless streak ball? That, he’s keeping.

And that’s the way it should be, right?

Front: Terry Francona; Dan Shulman. Back: Some Interloper; Orel Hershiser


  1. Mary_Caruso

    And that is as it should be. He has more than a passing interest in this because that was the ball he worried over, rubbed to death, cursed and praised for getting him through that whole worrisome inning. I don’t blame him for hanging on to it. It should really hang on to him! Some things you just can’t let go of and there are others that you can. You just have to feel the difference. It can not be a logical decision, it has to come from the heart,..a big heart. Maybe in the future he’ll decide to donate it to the HOF and share it with everyone. But right now, give him the luxury of his moment in time.

  2. Brett

    Future blog topic, no matter how painful: Pruning your collection in 1985. We collectors needing to prune need some guidance!

  3. Sam

    I wonder if the days of the ex-great player broadcaster are coming to an end. Keith Hernandez, Bert Blyleven, and Orel Hershiser probably didn’t make enough money in their playing careers to provide a desirable income during retirement. I guess a big mouth like Curt Schilling probably just likes being on TV. But while there will always be players-turned-TV analysts, the great– even the good– players of the past decade or so probably won’t need the money since the contracts are so huge. I’m hoping that’s not why Orel is auctioning stuff off, because he needs the dough– maybe for charity? I notice Magic Johnson is still a TV analyst– I can see future ex-great players buying a team (Nolan already has) but player/owner/TV analyst, that’s really something else. I’d settle just to see Keith (Baseball Nerd, not Mex) on MLB Network as a regular contributor.

    • Danny H

      Well, I don’t know about that… Baseball Reference says he made $37million in is 18 year career? I’m sure he does alright with ESPN. He is wonderful on Sunday nights and I always look forward to his insight on what goes on inside the mind of a pitcher.

      PS- Love this blog

      • Sam

        Good research. I’m surprised Orel made that much. I guess about $3 million per year in his prime free agent years added up.

  4. ShoeBeDoBeDo

    My reading for comprehension is lacking because I thought you had already HAD your surgery. Well, I for one am glad the surgery will force you to stay down and rest. I pray it goes well and that you’re up and about soon. But not too soon. 🙂

    I’m not sure I understand how you guys could even THINK about “pruning” your carefully amassed and nurtured collections. I imagine letting go of any part of it would be the emotional equivalent of amputating an arm or a leg. Those who are as passionate about baseball as you Keith, are the best stewards of its “relics” as you put it because they will be much-loved and appreciated. Anyone else getting their grubby paws on these items just seems wrong.

    I’ve always admired Orel Hershiser’s gentlemanliness and talent. He’s right up there with Magic Johnson and Wayne Gretzsky, in my book. And, yes, he is the absolute rightful owner of that ball. Who else could possibly love it, value it, or appreciate its history more?

  5. Matt

    As a lifelong Giants fan I hated Hershiser with a passion of thousand white hot stars, however, I can’t understand why he would even think about selling that ball or his World Series MVP trophy. Does he miss playing that much and not want it around, is he nearly bankrupt, or something else? Please do a follow up Keith. Hope the surgery goes well and to see you on the tube again someday soon.

  6. autismmomx4

    Hoarders all of you! JK and I’m ducking for cover! However, in the end it is all just “stuff.” Better to auction it off now and see it go to a fellow treasurer? appreciator? of all things baseball. After my mother passed away there was really no time and no space to deal with all her “treasures.” I donated most of them and I’m sure that she would be whirling in her grave had I not had her cremated. If she had been able to let go when she was alive, she could have enjoyed watching her favorites transfered to another collector. In the end it’s all dust in the wind.

  7. Patricia Ellyn Powell

    Right, Mr. O. I am glad he saved that ball. Having second thoughts about things is as natural as changing from fries to tater tots. I do wonder if that ball has been used at all, though. It looks like sheet cake, so clean and white! Do they bleach those balls? But I guess if it was never hit, it would only show signs of spit. Cool. Oh, I know what it is like to “downsize” a collection. Mercy! Over the past ten years, as I moved deeper into poverty, I kept having to let things go. The fountain collection went first…then the art…then the fake food…then the clowns. I kept one or two of the littlest things. Some said…”Oh, you are just keeping the best of the best!” But, after you have done that three times, the best is sparse. You know? Enjoy what you have! It is a blessing. I don’t blame anyone for attachments. Life is so short and forgiveness so scarce. Happy Days to you and yours! P.S. Just don’t build bigger barns, ya know? 😉

  8. Evelyn

    totally off topic, but the similarity between the “Macris” who was fired from JPMorgan Chase and “Andrea Makris” of FOX fame is too delicious. I wish you were still on the air.

    • Patricia Ellyn Powell

      Isn’t that something! He needs a political blog, too…like he doesn’t have enough to do. heehee He is still on air…just walkin’ on it now. Whee!

  9. Tom Hoffarth, LA Daily News

    There appears to be another ball from the Hershiser scoreless inning game that’s up for auction: http://catalog.greyflannelauctions.com/LotDetail.aspx?lotid=28037&searchby=0&searchvalue=None&page=0&sortby=0&displayby=2&lotsperpage=50&category=70&seo=9%2F28%2F1988-Orel-Hershiser-LA-Dodgers-Game-Used-Baseball-From-the-59-Consecutive-Innings-Record-Breaki
    Not the final ball used … Which, according to lore, was thrown into the stands by Jose Gonzalez, the Dodgers right fielder at the time in San Diego.

  10. Diane Offineer

    you look happy, “history” mentioned surgery in their comment above…I hope it is nothing awful….I could do a tarot reading (35 years experience) I happen to be good long distance. I would so get into watching baseball just to hear you comment, any team……love the beard thang!

  11. JOEMLM

    you would think they would ask for more than $2,500 for THAT ball
    thanks for the great post

    hey KO how about starting your own sports network,
    you already know all the people, you have a lot of fans and you have the access
    stop working for other losers, work for yourself!
    KO Sports
    has a ring to it
    get it? ring lol

    ᵇᵉ ͨᵃᵘˢᵉ ˢºᵐᵉᵗ’ᵐᵉˢ ˢᵐᵃˡˡ ᵈʳᵉᵃᵐˢ ᵃʳᵉ ⁿºᵗ ʷºʳᵗʰ ʰᵃᵛ’ⁿᵍ

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