In need of a 5th starter entering the 1999 season, the Mets took a chance and signed Orel Hershiser during Spring Training. Orel Hershiser at one time was one of the top pitchers in the game. In 1988, he won the National League Cy Young award and set the Major League record for most consecutive scoreless innings pitched with 59. But he is best remembered among Met fans as the pitcher who almost single handedly beat the Mets in the 1988 NLCS. Hershiser appeared in four games for the Dodgers, starting three. He won one game and saved another while posting a 1.09 ERA in 24 2/3 innings and was named the series MVP. But most importantly he won the decisive game seven pitching a complete game shutout while scattering five hits. But that was the old Hershiser, now he was nearing the end of his career and coming off an 11-10 season with the San Francisco Giants in which he posted a 4.41 ERA.
The Mets were taking a chance with Hershiser but then again, they were just looking for someone who could eat up innings and perhaps serve as a mentor to some of their young pitchers. That is exactly what they got. But his Met career did not get off to the type of start he or the Mets were hoping for as he lost his first game by allowing four earned runs in four innings and was just 4 and 5 after his first 10 outings with a 5.77 ERA. But then Hershiser suddenly found his form and won five of his next seven starts, with the Mets winning all seven games. In September with the Mets in the midst of a pennant race Hershiser pitched perhaps his greatest game of the year against his former team the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed just two hits and one run over eight innings as the Mets won 3-1 He would finish the season with a 13-12 record with a 4.58 ERA in 179 innings helping the Mets win the National League Wild Card. In fact, with the Mets needing to win the final game of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates to force a one game playoff with the Cincinnati Reds to determine who would win the Wild Card, Hershiser started the game and allowed just one run over 5 1/3 innings in game the Mets would win 2-1. The Mets defeated the Reds the next day to win the Wild Card and advance to the postseason.
In the postseason, he was relegated to the bullpen and pitched effectively especially in game five of the NLCS against the Braves. With the Mets trailing the series 3 game to 1 and in a must win situation, he pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in a game the Mets would win 4-3 in 15 innings to extend their season one more day. In three appearances for the Mets in the postseason Hershiser pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed zero runs and just one hit.
1999 would be his only season with the Mets. He signed as a free agent with the LA Dodgers and retired after being released in the middle of the season with a 1-5 record.
While with the Mets Hershiser wore number 55.
Orel Hershiser also played for the following teams:
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1983-1994, 2000
Cleveland Indians – 1995-1997
San Francisco Giants – 1998