Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Could Have Been: Herb Score

Today is an anniversary of one the saddest days in baseball history.  The beginning of the end of Herb Score's stardom.  Herb Score joined the Cleveland Indians as a 22 year old rookie in 1955.   Cleveland's pitching staff already included future Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Bob Lemon and Hal Newhouser, all of which were at or near the end of their impressive careers.  The lefthanded Score, found his way in the starting rotation thanks a lot to his blazing fastball.  He finished the season with 16-10 win/loss record with ERA of 2.85.  He also had an impressive total of 245 strikeouts in 227.1 innings pitched.  His rookie strikeout total became the major league record that stood until 1984 when New York Mets' Dwight Gooden broke it.
1956 Topps
Score improved upon his rookie season the following year with a 20-9 record and an ERA of 2.53. He also struck out 263 batters in 249.1 innings and made his second consecutive All-Star game appearance.
By the time 1957 season started, Score's fastball was compared to the best of all time. There was also discussion that Score could end up being the greatest left handed pitcher ever.  Score started the season with a 2-1 record, an ERA of 2.00 and 39 Ks in 36 innings.  For his fifth start on May 7, 1957, Score faced the New York Yankees.  In the first inning, Yankees shortstop Gil McDougald lined a Score fastball back at the star lefty and ended up hitting him the face. Score suffered an injured eye and broke several facial bones.  McDougald was so shook up he vowed to retire immediately if Score could never throw again.
Score did manage to come back late in 1958 season.  He later hurt his arm and was out of baseball by 1962 at the age of 29.  If Score maintained a long and healthy career, he could have had his name alongside other immortals in Cooperstown.  Score would also been forever compared to another left handed pitcher who made his MLB debut during the 1955 season - Sandy Koufax.

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