Orel Hershiser picked up his awards, listened to the applause, and then sent a very public warning to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I hope this city is easy on me," Hershiser said only half-jokingly to a packed ballroom Sunday night at the 66th annual dinner of the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, "because I'm a free agent in one year and you never know."Minutes before, he had accepted the National League Cy Young Award and the World Series MVP Award. Now, he was taking his contract talks with the Dodgers public, talking about the possibility of relocating to New York next offseason, when he can become a free agent.
"I hope Mr. O'Malley doesn't hear this," Hershiser said, referring to Dodgers' owner Peter O'Malley. But the remarks by Hershiser, who can become a free agent after the 1989 season, seemed to be aimed directly at his boss.
Among the no-shows was Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who was in Rome.
"He couldn't be here," Mickey Mantle said of Steinbrenner. "He had to go fire the Pope."
And on Jose Canseco's becoming the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases: "If I had known it was such a big deal, I would have done it two or three times."
Mantle was not the only person on the dais who raised eyebrows with his lip. Mets manager Davey Johnson presented an award to pitcher Bob Ojeda, who missed the playoffs after severing a finger with a garden tool.
"He's not going to get any awards for lawnman of the year," Johnson said. "As far as I'm concerned, he cost us the World Series."
"I'd like to say, `Thank you, Davey' but I don't think I can," Ojeda said after picking up his prize.
Tony La Russa accepted his American League manager of the year award. "Jose Canseco said there was nothing he wouldn't do for me," the Oakland manager said. "I said: `For five days, that's exactly what you did,' " a reference to Canseco's 1-for-19 in the World Series.
Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda moaned about the Dodgers' troubled times. "Things got so bad, in August I got a call from Judge (Robert) Bork (the failed Supreme Court candidate). He said he wanted to speak to someone worse off than he was."