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Hershiser, another '88 hero, throws first pitch

Former Cy Young winner teams up with Schumaker before Ferrell reads lineup

LOS ANGELES -- The Hollywood tale of Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run in Game 1 the 1988 World Series has been rehashed around these parts for 25 years. But for Orel Hershiser and the 1988 Dodgers, Gibson's gimpy, adrenaline-filled trek around the bases was only the beginning.

Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of Gibson's game-winning homer off Oakland's Dennis Eckersley, sparking "Where were you when ..." tales from countless fans on talk shows and local radio.

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Wednesday offered yet another silver anniversary in Dodgers lore -- one not quite as well-remembered, yet equally important in their '88 title quest. And the man who was front and center for it -- Orel Hershiser -- was on hand for the ceremonial first pitch before taking up his duties as ESPN Radio's color commentator.

It was Hershiser who made certain the heavily favored A's would not sneak their way back into that historic series. Just 24 hours after Gibson's heroics, the Cy Young Award-winning right-hander tossed a complete-game shutout, striking out eight, all while effectively quashing the A's title hopes. Hershiser surrendered just three hits, while notching three hits of his own at the plate.

Hershiser would take home series MVP honors four days later after yet another complete game in Game 5.

On Wednesday, shortly after movie star Will Ferrell announced the Dodgers' starting lineup for Game 5, Hershiser tossed a first pitch that Skip Schumaker had to sprawl to stop from reaching the backstop. Schumaker, a Dodgers fan growing up, had met the former Dodgers ace for the first time as a 5-year-old while eating dinner at a local restaurant.

Hershiser received the loudest ovation among a flock of celebrities, who took in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Tommy Lasorda watched from the Dugout Club Owners Box, while Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad," Jason Bateman of "Arrested Development" and Eric Stonestreet of "Modern Family" also took in the game from field-level suites.

Aloe Blacc performed the hit song "Wake Me Up" on top of the Dodgers' dugout, as the early arrivals in the stands clapped along. He received a solid ovation for his performance and another for his rendition of the national anthem a few minutes later.

But it was Ron Burgundy -- er, Ferrell -- who stole the show in the pregame festivities, when he announced the Dodgers' starter as, "Today's winning pitcher, Zack Greinke."

Promoting the December release of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," Ferrell announced the entire Dodgers starting lineup, adding his own nicknames for each player, including Carl "He runs like a gazelle" Crawford, and Hanley "I seeeee you" Ramirez.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Los Angeles Dodgers