The thing fans watching on television that night will remember is Hershiser sitting on the bench in the top half of an inning, leaning back, mouth wide open, singing to himself. The two songs he sang were the doxology ("Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow") and a contemporary Christian tune by the late Keith Green called Rushing Wind. Says Hershiser, "There's a line in that song—'Rushing wind, blow through this temple, blowing out the dust within'—that seemed particularly appropriate. I wanted to cleanse my mind of all the clutter in the world at that moment, to block out the pressure and concentrate on the game at hand."
What followed after he struck out Tony Phillips to give the Dodgers their 5-2 victory was a rushing wind of interviews, public appearances, parades and parties, and through it all, Hershiser conducted himself with patience, intelligence, humor and humility.
When he appeared on The Tonight Show the night after the Series ended, he charmed Johnny Carson, the studio audience and, presumably, everybody watching at home. At one point, Carson played with fire by urging Hershiser to sing the doxology again, and Hershiser somehow pulled it off, turning what could have been a mawkish moment into a sweet one.
After that came the obligatory, truth-in-advertising tour of Disneyland, the first of three trips to the White House, a foray into New York to accept Sport magazine's World Series MVP award, a swing through Japan with the major league all-stars, a brief stopover in Pasadena, another journey to Washington—this time with Jamie, for both the morning reception and the state dinner honoring Thatcher—a business and pleasure jaunt to New York and a flight to Orlando, Fla., for the Payne Stewart Celebrity Pro Am Golf Tournament. After all that, at last came a restful week with four generations of Hershisers—16 of them at the Thanksgiving table, including four-year-old Orel V (called Quinton)—in Vero Beach, Fla., where Quinton's paternal grandparents have a home. Things had gotten so hectic at one point that Jamie, who had flown home from New York to pick up the two boys and take them to Orlando, remembered at the last instant that she had yet to make arrangements to care for the Hershisers' golden retriever, the wonderfully named Sinker. Neighbors wound up feeding the dog.
All of this to-do was over a fellow who was cut from his high school baseball team, who couldn't make the traveling squad of his college team, who almost quit in the minors, who never quite looked the part he was trying to play. His really was a Cinderella story, and his triumph was a triumph for everybody who has been told "No way." No way the Dodgers could win the World Series. No way Drysdale's record would ever be broken. No way this kid could be a major league pitcher.
The name Hershiser is Hessian in heritage, and Orel means "eagle" in Czech. Orel Leonard Hershiser might seem a cruel name to be passing down from generation to generation, but when Orel Leonard IV was just a boy, his parents took mercy on him by calling him just plain "O." It has a nice ring to it, O. Headline writers certainly appreciated it during the scoreless streak: ooo ooo OOOREL was a popular choice. And the letter seems perfect for Hershiser in other ways. O, as in the start of major league baseball's two national anthems, O as in standing O. Drape a seam across the top of the O and another across the bottom, and—voila—you have a baseball. It may be stretching the point, but Hershiser's face—so occupied and determined on the mound, so open and full of bemusement off the field—even suggests something of an O, especially when he wears his glasses, the lenses of which are shaped like O's.
One night during the tour of Japan, Hershiser was wearing those glasses for an appearance on a television show in Fukuoka. A Japanese TV personality began the interview by saying, "You don't look like a great pitcher. You look like a, a...."
"A librarian?" offered Hershiser.
"No," said the interviewer.