Johnson Accuses Hershiser Of Cheating

Posted: October 13, 1997

CLEVELAND — For three games, Orioles manager Davey Johnson and Indians manager Mike Hargrove had been working the corners, careful not to fire their slights and innuendos down the middle.

That all changed last night, when Johnson accused 39-year-old Indians pitcher Orel Hershiser of doctoring the ball Saturday, when he pitched seven shutout innings in Cleveland's 2-1 victory in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.

The strange thing is that Hershiser's teammate, Chad Ogea, agreed with Johnson.

``I've known Orel for three years and he cheats,'' said Ogea, who starts tonight's Game 5 at Jacobs Field. ``Just about everybody else does, too.

``Why not? He showed me how to cheat, but said I can't do it until I'm about 35. So if I stay around that long, I get the privilege to cheat.''

Ogea, 26, said this in a room full of reporters. It did not appear he was joking, although later, through an Indians spokesman, he said that he was.

He certainly went farther than Johnson, who was not joking.

``I know from my experience that Orel likes to put water on the back of his neck,'' Johnson said when a reporter asked what he discussed with home plate umpire John Hirshbeck in the third inning Saturday.

``He prefers to have the cover of the ball moist as opposed to dry, and he will get water wherever he can get it,'' Johnson said. ``He was going from his mouth right to the ball, and that's illegal. I wanted to point it out to them, and at least Orel was thinking about it.''

Hershiser, normally chatty, was not on the field before last night's game, and declined a pregame request by a group of reporters to address Johnson's charges.

All this comes amid an escalating exchange of gamesmanship between the managers that at times has seemed to border on acrimony.

Discussing roster moves before the start of the ALCS, Johnson dismissed the idea of adding an 11th pitcher to his roster this way: ``Any team who needs more than 10 probably won't win it.''

Johnson elaborated by saying, ``If I didn't feel my starting pitching was strong, I probably would go with 11 . . . If I felt like there were some weak links in our bullpen, I'd go with 11.''

One day later, Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove announced his roster, which contained 11 pitchers.

Hargrove apparently took the remarks as a knock on him, and responded in kind. Asked Wednesday if he would tinker with his lineup against righthanders after Baltimore's Scott Erickson tossed a Game 1 shutout Tuesday, Hargrove said, ``I don't know if it does any good to sit down people who hit .330 or hit 40 home runs during the regular season.''

In the Orioles' Division Series with Seattle, Johnson sat Rafael Palmeiro (38 home runs, 110 RBI), B.J. Surhoff (18 home runs, 88 RBI) and Roberto Alomar (.333, 14 HRs, 60 RBI) in two games against lefthander Randy Johnson. Baltimore won both.

Saturday night, Hargrove complained vociferously to Hirschbeck when Johnson went to the mound with a trainer to check on reliever Arthur Rhodes, after previously talking to Rhodes, and was not charged an official visit. ``We just felt Davey was trying to buy time to get Randy Myers ready,'' Hargrove said. ``I felt it was not right.''

After last night's loss, Johnson was asked about his 11-man pitching staff comment. His response: ``In hindsight, if you knew that Jimmy Key was going to have a problem, that Arthur Rhodes would continue to have a problem . . . ''

As for Johnson's charge that Hershiser was loading up Saturday, Hargrove insisted, ``It doesn't rankle me. That's certainly Davey's prerogative. There have been a lot of people over the last couple of years who have accused Orel of doctoring a baseball. But he has not and does not. He happens to have a very, very good sinker. If they're thinking he does [load it up with water], then they obviously aren't thinking very hard about hitting him.

``Don't forget, I played with Gaylord Perry.''

ALCS NOTES Upset by the pitcher-friendly shadows cast by Saturday's afternoon start, both managers said that such starting times were ``bad for baseball.'' They obviously haven't checked the ratings. Evening starts aren't doing it a world of good, either . . . Here's a quick list of the records set in Saturday's game: longest game by time (4 hours, 51 minutes); combined strikeouts, both teams (33); most strikeouts by an individual (15, Mike Mussina); most pitchers used, both teams (13) . . . Cleveland second baseman Bip Roberts left last night's game in the fifth inning after straining a knee . . . The three Baltimore home runs in the third inning last night matched an LCS record set twice, by the Orioles in 1970 and the Yankees last year. The Yankees hit three in an inning in the Division Series against the Indians this season . . . All three Cleveland wins in this series have been by one run, and two have come in the team's final at-bat. The team was 12-15 this season in games decided in a final at-bat.

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