Orel Hershiser stands at a podium
Orel Hershiser, BGSU Athletics Hall of Fame member and the 1988 World Series MVP, speaks to a packed Lenhart Grand Ballroom during the Baseball First Pitch Dinner on Saturday, Jan. 27. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

In Photos: BGSU welcomes Orel Hershiser to the 2024 Baseball First Pitch Dinner

The BGSU and MLB great has chosen to throw his support behind BGSU baseball and the greater University mission

BGSU Athletics Hall of Famer Orel Hershiser returned to his alma mater on Saturday, Jan. 27 and spent his weekend giving tips to BGSU baseball players and raising awareness of the program during the First Pitch Dinner. 

The Dodgers 1988 World Series champion and MVP, who threw a no-hitter for BGSU in 1979, built his career after baseball as a business owner and award-winning broadcaster. Hershiser is now focusing on helping the BGSU baseball team and his alma mater in general, saying it’s a lot of fun to pass it on and pay it forward. 

He said his involvement goes beyond the baseball team and he hopes that the increased profile and awareness translate into benefits for the University as a whole. “I’m no longer ‘from here.’ I’m part of this again,” he said. “I’m standing on the shoulders of the gentlemen and ladies that built the Schmidthorst College of Business, that built the field house, that built the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, that built the Stroh Center, and that are upgrading the Slater Family Ice Arena right now.” 

People seated at rows of tables listen to a speaker at a podium
BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers addresses the audience during the Baseball First Pitch Dinner. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)
Three fans pose with Orel Hershiser
Orel Hershiser poses with fans, from left, Boston Johnson, Joey Kline and Carter Earl after signing a baseball card from his time pitching in Cleveland. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)
Former BGSU baseball players stand with Orel Hershiser at the Baseball First Pitch dinner.
Former BGSU baseball players stand with Orel Hershiser at the Baseball First Pitch dinner. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

BGSU Baseball First Pitch Dinner 2024 with MLB great Orel Hershiser

The Lenhart Grand Ballroom was packed with notable guests for the First Pitch Dinner, including BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers and University Advocate Sandy Earle, Director of Athletics Derek van der Merwe, head baseball coach Kyle Hallock and current and past BGSU baseball players. The evening was hosted by alumnus Jay Crawford ’87, currently an anchor at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, who previously worked for ESPN for a 14-year run that included hosting Cold Pizza – the show that morphed into First Take – and co-anchoring SportsCenter for the network.

Alumnus Jay Crawford stands at a podium
BGSU alumnus and Sandusky native Jay Crawford '87 speaks to the audience at the Lenhart Grand Ballroom in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)
Three BGSU Falcon baseball players sit on stools and are asked questions by host Jay Crawford
During the player panel portion, Falcon baseball players Tyler Ross, Logan Bell and Nathan Archer field questions from First Pitch Dinner host and BGSU alumnus Jay Crawford '87. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)
Host Jay Crawford '87 and MLB great Orel Hershiser pose for a photo
Host Jay Crawford '87 and MLB great Orel Hershiser pose for a photo at the First Pitch Dinner. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

Earlier in the weekend, Hershiser sat in on a team practice session, giving tips on mechanics to BGSU ballplayers. In addition to helping with the Falcons, Hershiser also met with Bowling Green youth and high school ball players and their coaches, dispensing wisdom and signing autographs.

Orel Hershiser and BGSU baseball players take a selfie
Orel Hershiser takes a selfie with BGSU baseball players at the Perry Field House. (BGSU photos/Craig Bell)
Orel Hershiser and BGSU baseball players
rel Hershiser and Bowling Green High School ball players and coaches

In a gesture of thanks during the First Pitch Dinner, AD van der Merwe presented Hershiser with a framed photo from his Nov. 14, 2023, visit to BGSU that was signed by members of the team and also gave him a Falcons-logoed base.

During that November visit, Hershiser returned to the BGSU campus for the first time in years and shared his entrepreneurial knowledge with BGSU business students at the Schmidthorst College of Business. He also spent some time in the broadcast booth during the national ESPN football broadcast as the Falcons took on the Toledo Rockets at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. 

Orel Hershiser stands with BGSU Director of Athletics Derek van der Merwe.
Orel Hershiser holds up a framed photo and a base presented to him by BGSU Director of Athletics Derek van der Merwe. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)
BGSU baseball coach Kyle Hallock
BGSU baseball coach Kyle Hallock speaks at the podium during the Baseball First Pitch Dinner. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)
Orel Hershiser and Allen Schmidthorst
Orel Hershiser stands with entrepreneur and businessman Al Schmidthorst who, with his wife, Carol, established the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst College of Business, where Hershiser spoke in November to BGSU business students. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

Hershiser praised the many changes he saw on campus and the focus on student success infused in the programs he observed.

"I am so impressed. If you're in high school and you're in Ohio or somewhere nearby – think about Bowling Green. This is a campus you need to come visit because there's extra special stuff going on around here," he said in the ESPN broadcast booth during the Nov. 14 Battle of I-75 football game. "What's going on in Bowling Green is really big. It's a big-time place. The campus is unbelievable. Two-thirds of the buildings here were not here when I left in 1979. Everything they've built is complex and on the cutting edge."

A baseball is printed with the image of Orel Hershiser and has his autograph
A program with the words: BGSU Baseball First Pitch Dinner, featuring Orel Hershiser, legendary player and BGSU alumnus, January 27, 2024
Orel Hershiser stands at a podium.

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 02/01/2024 11:24AM