Yesterday I spent some time with Josh Suchon's new book, Miracle Men: Hershiser, Gibson, and the Improbable 1988 Dodgers. As you're no doubt aware, Kirk Gibson wound up winning league MVP honors, Hershiser took the Cy Young Award, and both starred as the Dodgers won the World's Championship that October.
One thing I'd forgotten (or maybe never knew): Hershiser was largely a relief pitcher in the minors, and is thus one of the very few to make the successful transition from minor-league reliever to major-league starting ace. Suchon relates Hershiser's struggles in the minors; at one point, Hershiser wanted to quit baseball completely but was talked out of it by his coaches.
Anyway, that's probably not uncommon. This passage caught my eye, though:
The 1982 season was Hershiser's fourth in the minors. Finally, he was promoted to Triple A Albuquerque to begin the season. His numbers didn't look spectacular. He was 9-6 with a 3.71 ERA. He pitched 40 games in relief and got seven starts.
The Texas Rangers were impressed and asked for Hershiser in a potential trade. The Dodgers would obtain catcher Jim Sundberg and would give up pitchers Dave Stewart and Burt Hooton, plus outfielder Mark Bradley and Hershiser. Both teams agreed to the trade.
Sundberg needed to approve the trade, though. He asked for his contract to be rewritten. The Dodgers refused to extend his contract. The trade was nixed, and Hershiser remained a Dodger.
If Hershiser's traded to the Rangers, the Dodgers don't win the World Series in 1988. If Sundberg's traded to the Dodgers, the Royals probably don't win the World Series in 1985.
Then again, if Hershiser's traded to the Rangers, he probably doesn't throw a million innings from 1985 through '89, and maybe he doesn't break down and maybe today he's in the Hall of Fame.
Hey, I can do this all day long.