Orel Hershiser serious about Dodgers

The ownership group interested in purchasing the Los Angeles Dodgers, led by former Dodger greats Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser, hasn't yet revealed details about who their financial backers are except to say that they have them.

Thursday afternoon, in his first public comments since Dodgers owner Frank McCourt announced that he would put the team up for sale via an auction in bankruptcy court, Hershiser shot down skepticism about the seriousness and strength of their bid.

"I'm as serious as my heart beats," Hershiser told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "The next step in the process is to be approved by baseball to bid on the team. We think with the people we have in place and the assets we have in place, we will be a serious contender."

Hershiser, a baseball analyst for ESPN, said the group's financial backers prefer to remain in the background at this point. But after reviewing details of their plan this week, he's confident they have more than enough capital and assets to make a serious run at the team, which most analysts have estimated could sell for between $800 million to $1.2 billion dollars.

"I'm excited to be involved in the process. It would be a dream come true to go after one more prize, one more championship, and do something special for the fans of Los Angeles," he said.

"I don't think I can evaluate and grade how personal this is for me. I have had my distance from the organization, I have maintained that because of my relationship with ESPN, but when the possibility of being able to step back into the L.A. community and be part of the Dodger organization existed, it became something that my heart tells me I can not turn away from."

Hershiser, who has also worked in the Texas Rangers front office, said he wasn't sure when the auction would take place or how long the process would take, but he hoped it would be soon.

"I think sooner is better than later," he said. "That's what would be great for the Dodger fans, it would be great for the next owner of the Dodgers, it would be great for Major League Baseball.

"I think that's where the commissioner needs to be applauded for helping this be as short of a process as possible instead of being lengthened out through next year or as long as it could've been."

In the week and a half since McCourt announced the team would be sold, former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley and former general manager Fred Claire have also said they intended to bid on the team.

Hershiser said he has maintained a good relationship with both men and said the ultimate goal is for the "Dodgers to end up in the right hands."

"We can compete like gentlemen with all the other groups," he said. "We can respect the fact that Mr. O'Malley has his hat in the ring, that Fred Claire does, and that there will be some other fine people who will too. I don't feel like you have to have a competition where people don't have a relationship when it's over with.

"There was a time in my life when I tried to get Steve Garvey out when he played for other teams. Now we're linked in our history with the Dodgers, and now in our efforts to bring the Dodgers to a better place."

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