- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Sports
• At 57, Ken Herman keeps up a schedule that would fell younger men Baseball, hockey, swimming É he's done it all
Ken Herman Jr. calls him 'the all-out, total jock of the world.' And, after examining Ken Herman Sr.'s background, it's hard to argue.
Check out the unofficial Herman Sr. rŽsumŽ:
nÊServed as Portland Beavers assistant bat boy in 1956-57.
nÊPlayed city league ice hockey at Memorial Coliseum, 1960-63.
nÊPitched baseball at Jefferson High School, 1960-63, under Jack Riley, if only briefly because of shoulder problems.
nÊBecame a competitive swimmer and wrestler.
nÊPlayed baseball for the all-U.S. Navy team from 1967-71, between tours in Vietnam.
nÊWas an avid player in Portland semipro and city league baseball from 1971-86, and also starred in slow-pitch softball, which he still plays.
nÊFamily served as host for hockey player Kelly Hubbard, 1980-83, while Hubbard helped the Portland Winter Hawks win the Memorial Cup championship in 1983.
nÊCoached many years of youth hockey and led a team of players from Sunset High School to three state club championships, 1989-92. Now coaches hockey for Lincoln High students.
Anything else? Oh, yeah, the 57-year Herman has been one of the National Adult Baseball Association's top local pitchers since 1995.
Clearly, Herman's athletic career didn't start in middle age.
Late in his 40s, he decided to give baseball another try, so he enlisted the help of Portland baseball legend Vince Pesky to teach him how to throw the curveball.
Herman runs his own adult team, the Portland Volcanoes, and puts his career record at 36-9-1; this year it's 6-1-1.
In 2000, at age 54, he helped the Portland 40-and-over all-star team win the NABA championships in Phoenix.
He'll take the 50-and-over team Portland Dirt Works to Phoenix for the NABA championships in late September, soon after he turns 58.
'I told the 40s, 'I'm too damn old,' ' he says.
It'll be his seventh trip to the nationals in nine years.
'I'm 40, and I can't imagine doing half the stuff he does,' says Kevin Walker, a teammate on the Volcanoes. 'For 57, to throw as hard as he does É he's good, and very consistent.'
Needless to say, Herman keeps himself in shape. He rattles off his workout regimen, which he follows every other day at his home in Clackamas: StairMaster, rowing, weight lifting, stretching, throwing 50 to 60 balls at a mattress, jumping rope and hitting 30 to 40 balls off a tee. After all that, he does wind sprints.
'I've never had a major injury,' adds Herman, who weighs a lean 185 pounds. 'But you know the real secret? No drinking, no smoking, no coffee. I might drink too much milk, but I don't think so.'
Baseball boot camp
Herman approached Pesky, the brother of legendary Red Sox player and hitting coach Johnny Pesky, about making his comeback in 1995. He went through three weeks of 'boot camp' at Pesky's house, adhering to the fundamentals to get back in baseball shape to avoid injury.
Pesky, a Portland prep coach for years, says the boot camp 'probably looked stupid out in front of the house.' Pesky taught him the curveball grip and about location.
'Today, if you got a kid who will listen,' he says, talking about Herman, 'he doesn't need to throw 90 miles per hour. If he nips the corners and throws high and inside once in a while É'
Herman has a fastball, curve, slider and change-up in his repertoire. He pitches Jamie Moyer-style, meaning slow, slower and slowest. His fastball, he jokes, 'must be clocked at 101 mph,' but seriously says one radar gun in a game 10 years ago had him between 77 and 80.
'So smooth,' Volcanoes teammate Darin Penney says.
'He comes at you in a professional manner,' says Vincent Pitre, a left-handed Volcanoes pitcher.
During a recent game, Pitre told Herman that a doctor had diagnosed him with arthritis in his lower back. 'The doctor said to do swimming and yoga,' said Pitre, 39.
'Pool's open,' said Herman, a pool owner.
Herman also plays second base, and he switch-hits.
'Is there any other way to hit?' says Herman, who idolized Mickey Mantle growing up.
Herman was hitting over .500 halfway through the NABA season.
Retire? Not likely
Former Winter Hawk Hubbard, a chiropractor in Portland, plans to join Herman's baseball team soon. He met Herman at age 17 and has kept in touch for the last 23 years, calling him a father figure.
Hubbard played with Cam Neely and Ray Ferraro on the '83 Winter Hawks team and enjoyed a professional career himself.
'The last 15 years, Ken has planned to retire from baseball and softball, but he hasn't done it yet,' Hubbard says. 'He's always running and swimming. He keeps himself in such good shape.'
Herman does plan to retire from the floor-covering business that he and his brother own. He also thought about giving up adult baseball but says, 'I'm having such a great year É'
Upon retirement, he plans to spend more time with his wife, Franzi. That is, when he's not watching major league baseball games or coaching his fledgling American Legion team.