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Madison, WI – April 21, 2009. The Madison Mallards are excited to announce the team has signed USC sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Hershiser for the 2009 season. Hershiser is the son of Orel, the former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher nicknamed the “Bulldog” who won both the NL Cy Young Award and World Series in 1988 and went on to win 204 games during his 18-year career. Jordan, who will miss the entire Trojan spring season due to Tommy John surgery performed last June, made 13 appearances a year ago as a freshman, posting a 1-0 record in 15.1 innings. The youngster earned all-conference honors in his last two years at St. Mark’s High School in Dallas, TX, that included a senior campaign in which he hit .387 with five home runs and 30 RBIs. He was also 6-2 on the mound in 50 innings with a 2.24 ERA.

Hershiser is well aware of everything the Northwoods League stands to offer the well-spoken 20-year-old; his roommate is none other than USC and future Mallards teammate, sophomore infielder Joe De Pinto, who played in Madison last season.

Said Hershiser from his Los Angeles dorm, “Joe’s comments about how large of crowds the Mallards draw, how nice the facilities are, and how accommodating his host family was, all make me very excited to start playing in Madison.”

“My first perception of the league is that it’s one of the top competitive summer collegiate leagues in the country. Anytime someone goes to the Northwoods League it’s a big deal.”

Less than a year removed from the serious surgery, Jordan plans to come armed with a healthy body and healthy set of personal goals.

“My mentality coming in is to be a relief pitcher at the beginning and slowly work my way up to compete for a starting job on this ballclub,” said Hershiser.

“At the same time I know I need to be smart about listening to my body and not pushing it past a certain limit.”

So how exactly is his right arm feeling these days?

“I honestly feel stronger today than I did before the injury. I was a little bit worried at the beginning when my range of motion was next to zero and I wasn’t able to move it. It’s definitely exciting to think that I’m only three weeks away from facing live hitters, and I’ll be able to compete again.”

He also explained why his tall stature (6’8”) really isn’t an abnormality in the Hershiser family. (Orel was listed at 6’3” during his playing days)

“My uncle Gordie is actually 6’7” and was a better high school and college pitcher than my father was, having thrown at Alabama. Unfortunately, he blew out his arm and his velocity dropped from 94/95 to 87/88. The Dodgers still signed him as a free agent in 1987 but he wasn’t able to climb above Double-A in his career. It seems as if the “tall” gene is visible in our family every generation.”

Jordan says he speaks to his father, who is currently busy working as an analyst for ESPN, at least three times a week and mostly after bullpen sessions. He cannot speak highly enough of the insight that Orel has always provided.

“My dad has been through it all, including a serious surgery (shoulder), so his words of wisdom and encouragement throughout the entire rehabilitation process have been much-needed at times. I’m blessed to be able to have two great baseball minds in my life at the moment; my dad and (USC) pitching coach Tom House.”

Jordan was at his dad’s side for much of his big league career, but reflects on the time spent in Cleveland as being the most memorable. In 1995 he remembers crying before game 2 of the ALCS versus the Seattle Mariners because he was unsure of whether to cheer for his dad or childhood idol Ken Griffey Jr.

He owns a pretty sweet piece of memorabilia as well from when his dad played for the San Francisco Giants for a season in 1998.

“Before a game versus the Marlins that year I was serving as the bat boy for the team and Barry Bonds and I made up a handshake to perform after he hit his next home run which would put him in the exclusive 400 homer, 400 stolen base club. Sure enough, he hit one that day, and actually gave me his batting gloves to keep. I ran back into the clubhouse to show my dad and there was J.T. Snow trying to trade an autographed baseball for Barry’s autographed gloves. No offense to J.T., but, needless to say, I kept the gloves.”

Published On: April 24th, 2009