Behind The ScenesLittle League World SeriesMLB

ESPN analyst Orel Hershiser and his family have rich Little League Baseball history

Orel Hershiser as a Little League baseball player. (Photo courtesy of Orel Hershiser)
Orel Hershiser as a Little League baseball player. (Photo courtesy of Orel Hershiser)

For many, there’s no better representation of baseball than the Little League World Series. One of the event’s biggest fans is veteran ESPN analyst and former World Series Champion and Cy Young Orel Hershiser, whose family is celebrating a baseball “silver anniversary” of sorts.

Twenty-five years ago, Orel led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a World Series Championship and earned National League Cy Young and World Series MVP honors. Orel III and Mildred Hershiser also were hailed that summer, honored as 1988 Little League Parents of the Year.

Before Orel’s start in Game 2 against the Oakland Athletics, his parents each threw a ceremonial “first pitch.” Their son then pitched a complete game shutout — and went 3-for-3 at the plate.

Hershiser (Sunday Night Baseball, Baseball Tonight) is contributing to ABC and ESPN’s coverage of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. – a place Orel describes as a baseball mecca. He’ll provide analysis for the International Championship Game, United States Championship Game and then finally the LLWS Championship Game – all on ABC this weekend – with Nomar Garciaparra and Karl Ravech.

Orel Hershiser as a young baseball player. (Photo courtesy of Orel Hershiser)
Orel Hershiser as a Little League baseball player. (Photo courtesy of Orel Hershiser)

It’s one of Orel’s favorite sporting events of the year – and one that he has a very personal and family connection to – as he told Front Row.

Tell us about your family connection to Little League
I played from age seven to age 12. Both my mom and my dad were heavily involved. My dad was a Little League district administrator, an umpire and league president and even worked on the grounds crew. My mom was the “Team Mom” and the concession stand lead.

What are your favorite memories of playing Little League?
Most of our family dinners were at Little League parks. I played Little League, and by the time my second and third brothers were involved, we were eating tons of meals outside at Little League stadiums. My dad was a traveling salesman; he sold on the road, and just before I was about to pitch, he’d pull up in his car to watch or be involved in some way.

Were you already dreaming about playing in the big leagues?
Oh yeah. I think every kid wants to play in the big leagues. That dream doesn’t get shattered even if you’re not that good. You always think, well, maybe I’ll hit a growth spurt or I’ll get stronger. Internally, you never stop believing.

What was 1988 like for you and your family?
I think the main thing is that anyone who wrote about the ‘88 season really got to see the beginning and the pinnacle of my baseball life. Meaning, my parents being honored and they are the ones that who started my little league and baseball career. It was fantastic that they were honored.