Orel Hershiser And The Baseball Poker Nexus

Updated: February 18, 2013

hershpokA guest post from friends of Off The Bench:

To say that baseball and poker are two very different sports is an understatement.  After all, baseball players are athletes and poker players… well let’s say it’s not integral to the game! However, the mental attributes required in succeeding in sports like baseball and poker are very similar.

Determination, anticipation and quick decision-making are all key to both sports.  Games of baseball can last hours, games of poker usually last longer, but both require the ability to stay focused for long periods of time, without being part of the action. The importance of staying sharp during the quiet periods can be draining, so determination and the ability to stay sharp are paramount.

It’s no surprise then that sports pros tend to adapt quicker to poker than the average Joe. However, not many have embraced it as tightly as Orel Hershiser. He is baseballs finest transfer into poker, having played at the highest levels of both games.

Born in New York in 1958, Orel first caught the attentions of Pro scouts while playing at Bowling Green State University, becoming a fully-fledged starter for the LA Dodgers in the early 1980’s. In 1987, he played his first All-Star game and the following year he reputedly put together one of the best seasons in pitching history.

During his baseball career, Orel played for the Cleveland Indians, the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets before returning to the LA Dodgers for his last season in 2000. After various coaching and management positions, Orel finally announced he would be joining the cable television network ESPN as a baseball analyst and commentator in 2006, finally being named as one of ESPN’s Sunday night baseball crew in 2011.

While keeping close to his first love of baseball after his retirement, Orel Hershiser was also getting more involved in poker. Having been invited to participate in the NBC National Heads-Up Championship in 2008, he amazed everyone with a fifth place finish. Having been invited more for his celebrity status than his poker skills; his final placement came as a surprise to all in the poker community at the time!

After witnessing Hershiser’s brilliant poker playing at the NBC Championship, he was offered a deal to become a professional poker player with Team PokerStars. Later in 2008, he won ninth place at the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker Event 5, winning over $54,000.

Because of his commitments to ESPN and his commentaries on baseball, Orel does not get to play as often as his fans would like, however, you can find him on PokerStars playing using the name ‘O. Hershiser’.

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