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Hershiser breaks Drysdale's record, September 29, 1988

September 29, 2008 |  6:59 am
Orel_hershiser
Photograph by Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times

Orel Hershiser pitches for the Dodgers against Cincinnati, April 14, 2000.
By Keith Thursby
Times Staff Writer

Twenty years ago, I witnessed an important moment in Dodger history. Good thing they don't need me as an expert witness to recall every detail of the occasion.

Orel Hershiser broke Don Drysdale's major league record for consecutive scoreless innings by pitching 10 innings against the San Diego Padres. I was in the stands that night. Mitch, my high school friend and a lifelong Dodger fan, was alongside. He was in San Diego County for a seminar, so perhaps I was the one who needed convincing that the drive would be worth it. Since Hershiser needed 10 innings to pass Drysdale, we didn't expect to see history that night.

Nevertheless, we were there. Maybe the memories are vague because I wasn't much of a Dodger fan, or because the game was in San Diego and there wasn't the sense of hometown drama. After all, what Padre fan would want one Dodger to break the record of another?

Were Mitch's memories any better than mine? "I don't think the Padre fans were aware of the record because the PA didn't make a big deal of it until it was done," Mitch wrote in an e-mail. "I remember us changing seats as the park emptied out and we got closer to the Dodger dugout."

San Diego's stadium was then called San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, after a local sportswriter, of all things. Homey it was not -- it's one of those dual-purpose stadiums that really don't fit baseball or football very well. And once the game hit extra innings, many Dodger fans headed north and locals headed home. By the 16th inning, we had great seats since most of them had been vacated.

I certainly recalled that the game went extra innings, but it didn't seem like 16 until I looked up the game story from The Times. I didn't recall that Hershiser needed four outs in the 10th to get the record because he struck out Marvell Wynne but the pitch bounced in front of, then over, catcher Mike Scioscia. One thing I have remembered all these years was the name Mark Parent, the journeyman catcher who homered off the Dodgers' Ricky Horton to give the Padres a 2-1 victory. Maybe I had his baseball card once. But I had forgotten completely that the Dodgers scored in the top of the inning to take a 1-0 lead.

What does this all mean, other than my middle-age memory is pretty sad?  I always chuckle when I see sports fans -- often actors -- on nostalgic television shows recall the exact day they first were taken to Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden. Me? Couldn't tell you my first Angels, Dodgers or Rams game. I do recall one Notre Dame-USC game only because it was raining and I got hit on the head by the umbrella of a happy Irish fan. Is it really important to remember the details as a fan?  As my friend Mitch put it at the end of his e-mail: "It's pretty cool to say we were there."

Some of my fondest sports memories are like that, a game where timing and luck made for a memorable experience. Seeing Barry Bonds hit his 500th home run (against the Dodgers) just because we happened to be in San Francisco for a vacation. Seeing Manny Ramirez's first game as a Dodger just because we bought discounted tickets two weeks in advance.

And seeing the Padres and Dodgers on the night Mark Parent became a name I wouldn't forget.

keith.thursby@latimes.com

 

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