Orel Hershiser accomplished a ton in his career pitching in the big leagues. His best years came in the 1980s as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers where he put together some of the most magnificent seasons of the era. A borderline Hall of Fame player, in my opinion, his penultimate season in Major League Baseball landed him with the New York Mets for the 1999 campaign.
Hershiser was far removed from his peak. He would make 32 starts for the club in his age 40 season. The result was a 13-12 record and 4.58 ERA spanning 179 innings of work. In the postseason, the Mets used him for 5.1 relief innings where he allowed only a single hit.
It’s not this we remember him for most. Mets fans recall Hershiser’s time with the club for a very different, out-of-this-world reason.
Mets fans remember Orel Hershiser’s year with the team for the Mercury Mets
The legend of the Mercury Mets is alive and well in our consciousness because of the ridiculousness of it all. As a part of the late 1990s push to add some gimmicks to the game several teams had ‘Turn Ahead the Clock” nights. On July 27, 1999, in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Mercury Mets took the field.
Funny enough, the game was designed to take place in 2021. Judging by the alien-crossbred images of players on the scoreboard and all of the other craziness put into the game, they didn’t exactly get this prediction right. We’re still working on getting robot umpires into the game let alone cyborg first basemen.
The starter for the Mets on that day was none other than the great Hershiser.
The game itself wasn’t a masterpiece by the Mets. Al Martin led off with a solo home run to put New York in an early 1-0 hole. The lone run the Amazins would put on the board came in the bottom of the seventh when Robin Ventura sent one into orbit himself.
Hershiser’s performance included 6.1 innings of work, 7 hits, 4 earned runs, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts, and a pair of home runs allowed. Across the diamond, Pirates starter Kris Benson went all nine in his club’s 5-1 win.
This appearance by Hershiser almost became a much more significant one for his career. In his previous start versus the Montreal Expos, he picked up his 200th career win. The Mercury Mets game wouldn’t contain any such personal achievement other than giving him possibly the strangest one-game association in all of franchise history.