From The Palm Beach Post: “Herb Score: Lake Worth’s Lost Legend”

CLEVELAND, OH - CIRCA-1958: Pitcher Herb Score #27 of the Cleveland Indians poses for a photo on the field prior to a game circa 1956 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Cleveland Indians Archives) *** Local Caption *** Herb Score

CLEVELAND, OH – CIRCA-1958: Pitcher Herb Score #27 of the Cleveland Indians poses for a photo on the field prior to a game circa 1956 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Cleveland Indians Archives)

The Palm Beach Post’s Dave George recently completed a lengthy profile of former Indians pitcher and broadcaster Herb Score, who once was one of the best pitchers in baseball before a line drive to the eye cut his career short. (George’s full profile can be read by clicking here.)

Here’s an excerpt from the lengthy story:

There is a way to tell the story of Herb Score that doesn’t begin with the sensational lefty being struck in the eye by a line drive and, in that instant, forfeiting the kind of momentum that carried Sandy Koufax, his contemporary, all the way to Cooperstown…..

It’s a fat scrapbook of memories, with a state baseball championship for Lake Worth included, but there is one day above all days that people connect to Score’s name. Might as well tell it right one time in his hometown, or at least as best as we can without input from Herb, who died in 2008 at the age of 75….

In 1955 he struck out 245 batters, which remains the American League record for a rookie and crushed the previous record of 227 set by Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1911. Included in that total was a 16-strikeout game against the Boston Red Sox in which Score struck out the side in each of the first three innings……

It was a line drive off the bat of Gil McDougald that stopped Score’s rise. The Yankees shortstop was the second batter in that May 7 game, looking for a low fastball and slashing it right back from where it came. Score never had a chance……

Score was rushed to the hospital, where he listened to the rest of the Indians’ 2-1 victory on radio. McDougald called repeatedly for updates in the coming days, but the only relief he got was a phone conversation with Anne Score, who told the player it wasn’t his fault and that everything would be all right. For years to come, whenever McDougald was in South Florida, he made it a point to stop by for a visit with Herb’s mom…..

“He had a chance at becoming as good a lefty as there ever was,” Colavito said years later. “He had that kind of stuff. He had hard knocks, but he never complained. You had to respect him for that. I loved him like a brother.”

The Indians must have felt the same way because they didn’t hesitate to give Score another opportunity to help the franchise.

They immediately hired Herb to be the voice of the Indians on TV and later on radio, and without a speck of training…..

There’s a way to tell the story of Herb Score, though, without ending it on a down note. Here it is, as bright as the sunny days he once spent in Lake Worth, throwing the ball so blindingly fast that he could just as easily have faked everybody out by keeping it in the glove.

First, a quote from Herb that he sometimes gave when others wanted to wallow in what never was. “I’m a lucky fellow,” he said. “I’m glad God gave me the ability to throw a baseball well for a few years. That drive could have killed me.”……

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