WPCNR VIEW FROM THE UPPER DECK. By “Bull Allen” May 7, 2018:
It was a sultry night in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium 1957 with baseball’s hottest pitching talent scheduled to pitch against the New York Yankees. I will never forget this night.
I was listening to the game on WINS which carried the Yankees that year and Herb Score was on the mound for the Tribe.
He was smoke. As a rookie he went 16-10 in 1955 as a rookie southpaw, fanning 245 batters in 227 innings pitched, a strikeout an inning, and 20-9 in 1956, striking out 263 in 249 innings. His fastball was overpowering, curve devastating, changeup you were never ready for. He was first pitcher in major league history to average a strikeout an inning. His 245 strikeouts as a rookie was broken by Dwight Gooden of the Mets.
Score’s pitching motion was electric, compact and swift, landing on both feet ready to field.
As an 12 year old I was tuned in as the baseball season had just been 3 weeks old. I like to think it was Mel Allen at the mike. Score got the first Yankee hitter, then Gil McDougald stepped to the plate. McDougald lined a pitch right back at Score that hit him in the face, squarely in the eye.
McDougald said he heard the thud of the ball he had hit as it struck Score in the face, saw the blood streaming out. McDougald started to go to the mound, shattered by what his hit had done.
Score was 24 at the time with a great future in baseball. But in an instant, his career was shattered. It took the mound again in 1958, but was not nearly as effective. Never winning more than 9 games in one year. , The reason Score said was that he tore a tendon in his arm while pitching on a damp night against the Washington Senators and sat out the rest of the season.
In 1959, he had shifted his pitching motion in a bid to avoid another, similar injury. “The reason my motion changed”, Score told the author of The Curse of Rocky Colavito, “was because I hurt my elbow, and I overcompensated for it and ended up with some bad habits.”
He stayed with the game he loved though, returning as play-by-play man for the Tribe (Cleveland Indians) until 1964. In 1964 he became a broadcaster for the Indians where he stayed behind the mike to 1998. His last broadcasts was the 7th game of the 1997 World Series, the only Series the Indians had been in since 1954.
Score died in 2008. He is remembered as a reminder of how fate deals you a bad break, and Mr. Score showed fans how to accept one’s fate with grace and perseverance.
Score was a beloved figure in Cleveland, voted a member of the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame.