Orel Hershiser: Talk created buzz

BEVERLY HILLS -- Former Dodgers great Orel Hershiser said he's received a flood of calls and inquiries after news of his interest in being a part of an exploratory ownership group with Steve Garvey surfaced last week.

"I've gotten a lot of interaction with a lot of people, and a lot more influential people than I thought," Hershiser told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Wednesday.

"I thought it was just going to be more of a buzz with the fans. But there are tremendous people that have a tremendous amount of money that have a heart for the Los Angeles Dodgers."

Hershiser said his interest in being a part of an ownership group is not specific to the Dodgers, although "if it ends up coming to a point where they need me, I've said, 'I could be available.'"

Hershiser, currently an analyst for ESPN, was in town Wednesday participating in a charity event to raise money for the Little League Baseball Urban Initiative.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was able to meet the team's latest payroll on June 15 with cash advances drawn from the team's corporate sponsors, ESPN the Magazine's Molly Knight reported, but it's not known whether he will be able to make payroll again June 30.

Should the beleaguered owner fail to make payroll, Major League Baseball would cover it for him and likely seize the team formally.

The league appointed Tom Schieffer to act as a trustee overseeing the Dodgers' finances in April amid McCourt's ongoing divorce proceedings. Attorneys for McCourt and his former wife Jamie McCourt are currently in settlement talks.

Hershiser noted on numerous occasions that the Dodgers are not for sale, and that his and Garvey's interest is broader than just the franchise he played 13 of his 18 major league seasons for.

"My hat got thrown into the ring because I'm really concerned about Major League Baseball," said Hershiser, 52.

"I'm concerned about the Los Angeles Dodgers situation and I'm rooting for MLB to do something that works. If it works for Mr. McCourt, that's great. If it works for the Los Angeles Dodgers, that's even better.

"My hat is in the ring only to bring awareness to the situation, to hope that this can get turned around. Because it's not only important to the City of Los Angeles and the fabric of this city, it's important for Major League Baseball for the Dodgers to be significant.

"If the Dodgers are significant and they're rock stars and they're drawing 8,000-10,000 people to games when they go on a road trip, that's great for Major League Baseball.

"My love for Major League Baseball is that every team be in a great place, or be in great shape. And right now we know the Dodgers aren't that, so you're pulling for Major League Baseball to get that squared away."

Dodgers attendance has plummeted this season. Through June 1, home attendance at Dodger Stadium is down a total of 221,984 from last season, an average 7,161 fewer fans a game. This represents a 16.7 percent overall drop, which is by far the worst in baseball this season.

"I think it's hard for all of us, and anybody who is sensitive to the Los Angeles Dodgers," Hershiser said.

"People are going to ask me questions about (the Dodgers) because of my name and the link to the history, but also the fact that I'm joining a group that has said they're investigating possibilities that might creep up.

"Everybody then wants to link it to the Dodgers. I understand that, that's logical, but right now it's really just about investigating the whole situation."

Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.