By the time Herb Score took the mound on September 24, 1955 to face the Tigers in the night cap of a doubleheader in Detroit, the Cleveland Indians season was over. The defending American League champions finished second, 3 games behind the hated New York Yankees. But Rookie of the Year Score, who along with the Yankees “Bullet” Bob Turley was one of the eras great power pitchers, dominated the Tigers. That afternoon, Score notched his 16th victory with a masterful 8-2 victory. Score’s pitching line: 9 IP, 7H, 0 ER, 2 BB and 9Ks. The Indians swept the doubleheader by taking the night cap, 7-0 Score finished his year with a 16-10 record, a 2.85 ERA and 245 strike outs. The following year Score was even better: 20-9, 2.53 with 263 strike outs. To the delight of manager and former catcher Al Lopez, Score reduced his walks from 154 to 129 and his hits per nine-inning ratio to 5.85.
When Score was at the peak of his too brief career, Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey offered the Indians $1 million cash for the fire balling lefty. At the time, that was an unheard of sum to be paid to a baseball player—or for that matter, anyone else. The Indians turned Yawkey down cold.
After Score’s sensational 1955 season his career took a bad turn. In an infamous incident, a line drive off the Yankees’ Gil McDougald’s bat struck Score’s eye. Then during Score’s comeback effort, he injured his arm. During the next five seasons with the Indians and the Chicago White Sox, Score won only 19 games.
In an interview years after he retired, Score said:
The last couple of years I pitched, I was terrible. I just couldn’t put it all together anymore. I went back to the minor leagues for a while and tried it there. Some people asked me why I went back to the minor leagues; they felt I was humiliating myself. But I never felt humiliated. There was no disgrace in what I was doing. The disgrace would have been in not trying.
After retiring Score became an Indians’ broadcaster and announced Cleveland’s radio and television games for nearly 30 years. In 1998, while driving to Florida after being inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Score was severely injured in a head on collision with a tractor trailer and spent more than a month in intensive care. But Score recovered in time to throw out the Indians’ Opening Day pitch in 1999.
In 2008 Score, after a long illness, died at his home in Rocky River, Ohio.This Sports Illustrated cover is how I remember him.
“Double the fun” is a Friday feature here that looks at one notable doubleheader in baseball history each week.