What's new
Fantasy Football - Footballguys Forums

Welcome to Our Forums. Once you've registered and logged in, you're primed to talk football, among other topics, with the sharpest and most experienced fantasy players on the internet.

Herb Score: 1933-2008 (1 Viewer)


FFA Legend™
A great read on an Indians legend...

Former Indians broadcaster Herb Score dies at age 75

by The Plain Dealer

Tuesday November 11, 2008, 10:04 AM

Former Cleveland Indians pitcher and broadcaster Herb Score died this morning at age 75 at his home in Rocky River, the Indians confirmed today.

He was a brilliant Indians pitcher whose baseball career was virtually ended at age 23 when he was hit in the right eye by a line drive off the bat of Gil McDougald of the New York Yankees on May 7, 1957.

Then he became a Cleveland sportscasting institution, calling Indians games on radio and television for 34 years, longer than anybody else in the city's baseball history.

He gained a loyal following, although he did not have the greatest voice or elocution. He was like a favorite uncle who talked baseball. "For me, broadcasting the game is like sitting in the stands talking to the fellow sitting next to me," he said.

Still, to those who had seen his talent on the mound, it was comparable to Napoleon becoming a war correspondent.

"He was a great pitcher," said his close friend, former Indians right fielder Rocky Colavito from his home in Bernville, Pa. "He had a chance at becoming as good a lefty as there ever was. 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."

"Ted Williams (Hall of Fame hitter) said he had the best fastball of any left-hander he ever faced," the late Ken Coleman, onetime Indians sportscaster, once said from his home outside Boston.

When Score stepped on the Stadium pitching mound on the night that changed his life, he appeared to be headed for baseball greatness.


The lefty was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1955, when he won 16 and lost 10 for the Indians. Score received 18 of the 24 votes from the voters. "It's the biggest thrill of my life," he said. "I'm deeply honored."

He had struck out 245 batters, a rookie record that stood for 29 years, until Dwight Gooden broke it with the New York Mets in an era of wild swingers. He was the first freshman to reach 200 since Grover Cleveland Alexander did it 44 years earlier.

The next year he was even better, going 20-9 and leading the league in strikeouts for the second straight year. Some observers said his fastball was the equal of Hall of Famer Bob Feller, the Clevelander who was considered the hardest thrower of his time. He also had a fine curve.

"They didn't have a radar gun then to measure speed," Colavito said. "But I think he threw 100 miles an hour."

Colavito compared Score with Sandy Koufax, considered by many to be the best lefty in modern baseball history. "Koufax didn't win 20 until he was 27," Colavito said. "Herb did it at 23."

Score projected an image of immense force on the mound. He seemed to throw a baseball that was as heavy as a rock.

He was showered with compliments from everywhere and everyone.

"If nothing happens to this kid, he's going to be one of the best who ever pitched," said former Indians hero Tris Speaker, player/manager on Cleveland's 1920 world champions.

"You took one look at him and you had one thought: Hall of Fame," McDougald said.


In spring training of 1957, the Boston Red Sox offered to buy Score for $1 million, an astronomical sum at a time when entire ball clubs were being sold for $4 million.

"We wouldn't sell him for $2 million," said Indians General Manager Hank Greenberg.

Al Lopez, who managed the Indians in Score's first two seasons, had a frightening prediction for opponents. "Wait until he puts on some weight," he said. "He'll get even better." The 6-2 youngster was still only about 185 pounds.

It all came apart on that fateful night in 1957, when Score pitched against the Yankees. He had beaten the world champions three times in a row dating back to the previous season, making them look like helpless beginners, even with Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra in the lineup.

McDougald, the second batter of the game, reached for a low pitch and lined it back at Score. The ball crashed into his face, breaking his nose, cutting his right eyelid and causing swelling and hemmorhaging of the cheekbone and eyebrow.

Third baseman Al Smith picked up the carom and threw McDougald out at first.

Score was knocked to the ground, bleeding profusely. He was immediately surrounded by teammates and Yankee players.

"I didn't see the ball until it was a foot or two from my face," said Score, who threw with an uninhibited motion in which his body turned his back to the batter. Sometimes he turned so hard he expected that he might eventually get hit on the back.

"I could feel the blood," said the pitcher, who never lost consciousness. "People were all around me. Rocky must have set a record getting in from right field." Colavito was Score's roommate and best friend. They had come up through the minor leagues together.

Teammate Vic Wertz, playing first base, rushed over, then retreated when he saw the blood.

"Everybody was shoving towels at me," Score said. "I even got one in the mouth. I almost choked on it."

Score remained surprisingly calm. Minutes after the accident, he joked to good friend Mike "Big Bear" Garcia, an Indians pitcher, "Well, Bear, you can't say I didn't keep my eye on the ball."

Score was sitting on a trainers table in the Indians clubhouse when Colavito peeked in to see how he was doing. "What are you doing here?" the pitcher said. "Get out there and get me a couple of base hits."


Score was taken to Lakeside Hospital, his head wrapped in bandages as though he had suffered a war wound. He felt numb at the hospital. "I didn't hurt much, but I didn't sleep much," he told The Plain Dealer.

He listened to most of the game on radio as Bob Lemon came in to pitch a 2-1 victory over the Yankees. Lemon had been given as much time as he needed to warm up after the mishap.

It was not the first time Score had suffered a serious injury. When he was 3 years old, he was hit by a bakery truck and both legs were nearly crushed above the knees. It was feared he might never walk, but he recovered.

He had severe cases of pneumonia, rheumatic fever and appendicitis as a youngster. When he was in the minors, he suffered a broken ankle and dislocated collarbone.

Score was kept in a darkened room at the hospital. "He amazes me with his courage," said Greenberg, Tribe general manager. "His spirits are certainly good."

McDougald, who was in tears after the game, tried to see him the next day, along with teammates Berra and Hank Bauer, but the hospital did not permit visitors.

The hospital made an exception in the case of Score's fiancee, Nancy McNamara, 21, a senior at St. Mary's College in South Bend, Ind., who immediately flew in to see him. They had both attended the same high school in Lake Worth, Fla. Her best friend was Score's sister.

There were fears Score might be blinded in the right eye. Dr. Charles I. Thomas, a Cleveland eye specialist, offered hope that would not happen. "He has light perception," the doctor said.

From then on, there was constant newspaper speculation on Score's possible return to pitching. One optimistic report said he would be back on July 15. But he still had a problem with depth perception. He could not tell if a ball was three or 30 feet away.

After a few months, the Indians said Score would be out the rest of the year.

He and Nancy had planned to be married at the end of the season. With baseball out of the picture, they wed in mid-season. The couple settled in Rocky River and eventually had four children, Judy, Mary, Susan and David.

Score, looking ahead to 1958, exercised to stay in shape. He played racquetball with good friend Coleman, who defeated the pitcher at first. "When he began to beat me I knew he was over the hump," Coleman said. "He hit the ball so hard he broke one in half."

Score returned to the mound with much fanfare in '58, but had only a 2-2 record when he was put on the disabled list with a sore elbow on July 18. "There's two years shot," he said ruefully.


Joe Gordon, the new Indians manager, speculated that Score was subconsciously favoring his arm. In later years, McDougald and Lemon both said that Score had changed his pitching motion. They felt he was recoiling, not following through with the abandon of old.

Score always maintained that the McDougald accident had nothing to do with his decline. He attributed his problem to the sore arm.

He could still summon the old brilliance from time to time. Gordon started him in the 1959 home opener and Score beat Detroit, 8-1, getting 19 outs in a row and striking out nine.

"He looks like my stopper," Gordon said.

Score managed to win nine games and lose five before the All Star break that year, but he was not pitching with the old dominance. He did not win another game that season, finishing 9-11 as the Indians wound up second.

On April 18, 1960, a day after he traded fan idol Colavito, General Manager Frank Lane sent Score to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Barry Latman.

Score could not find the answers in Chicago, going 5-10 in 1960. The last victory of his career came in early 1961, when he hurled a magnificent game against the Indians, throwing a two-hitter and striking out 13 at Comiskey Park.

Then, the old problems returned. Lopez, now the White Sox leader, optioned him to San Diego of the Pacific Coast League. "Tell me, Al," said Score. "Do you think I should quit?"

"There's nothing wrong with you," Lopez replied. "You're not as fast as you used to be, but you're still faster than most, and you have a better curve than most pitchers. But you're not getting the ball over." He had 24 walks in 24 innings, along with a 6.66 earned run average.

In 1963, Score was pitching for Indianapolis, an Indians farm team, when Indians General Manager Gabe Paul told the popular Coleman to choose between working Tribe games or Browns games. Coleman had been calling the games of both teams for 10 years, but Paul disliked seeing Coleman miss an Indians game because the Browns were playing the same day.

Coleman chose the Browns and a TV Indians job opened up.

Paul presented Indians publicist Nate Wallack with a list of potential candidates to replace Coleman. Wallack looked at the list and said, "There's one fellow you haven't thought of and I think he'd ring the bell. Herb Score."

Paul immediately agreed.

Late in September 1963, Score teamed with veteran Bob Neal on two Indians telecasts. They were widely regarded as a 1964 tryout for Score, then 30.

"This is a fine opportunity," he said. "I've always wanted to stay in baseball when my playing ended and I'd like nothing better than to stay in Cleveland."

It was the start of a broadcasting career that made him a Cleveland fixture for more than three decades. Score was paired with Neal on TV in 1964, then with Harry Jones for three years. In 1968, he joined Neal on radio, replacing legendary Jimmy Dudley.

Score worked on radio for the rest of his career, partnering with Neal (1968-72), Joe Tait (1973-79), Nev Chandler (1980-84), Steve Lamar (1985-87), Paul Olden (1988-89) and Tom Hamilton (1990-97.)

"I'm lucky to have worked with pros who never tried to show up my lack of professional polish," Score said. "They fed me the right lines and taught me."

Neal, one of the great sportscasting talents in Cleveland history, advised him, "You're never going to please everybody. If you can please 50 percent you're in good shape."

Score would get plenty of mail from listeners. "One listener will say you root too much," he said in 1974. "The next one will say you praise the visiting team too much. The main thing is to be myself."


Score's assets were his intelligence, good taste and enthusiasm. Even when the Indians were in their depths in the 1970s, he would get excited about games and good plays. "I don't like to make fun of a player or knock a player," he said. "But if I feel he should have made a catch, I'll say so."

Indians infielder Buddy Bell made a classic quote on Score in 1977. "Herb is such a nice guy he probably makes his bed in his hotel room in the morning," Bell said.

To Score, the games were everything. "I don't like to talk too much," he said. "Fans want to know about the game, not what you did in the afternoon." He listed Cleveland pitcher Lenny Barker's perfect game in 1981 as his most memorable broadcast.

Score liked to joke about himself, recalling that when he first started broadcasting he took diction lessons to smooth out his New York accent and pronunciation. He was advised to listen to a tape of himself. He did and promptly fell asleep.

He thoroughly enjoyed his job. "When I go to the Happy Hunting Ground, I hope I go from here," he said in 1977. "I hope this job lasts forever."

Score refused to feel sorry for himself and disliked sympathetic articles that pictured him as a victim because of McDougald's liner. "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."

The solitude of the road suited him. "If we have an off day it's nothing for me to go to my room and read all day," he said. "After a game I often go to the room and read." His favorite authors were Robert Ludlum and Sidney Sheldon.

He enjoyed the restaurants around the league. "That's why I run," he said. "So I can eat all I want." Score jogged about four miles a day, five times a week. He would usually do his running early in the morning, while others on the team were still asleep.

Until he was in his 40s, he often pitched batting practice to the Indians. "I'm a great BP pitcher," he said. "Now I realize I was throwing BP the last few years of my career."

Score almost lost his job in 1973, when team owner Nick Mileti announced he wanted a complete change of announcers. When it was learned Score might go off the air, Mileti was deluged with angry mail. "I never realized Herb had such a following," Mileti said, signing him to a new contract.

The Plain Dealer said listening to Score was like listening to an old friend.

As the years went on, his fans savored Score's occasional mistakes, such as the time he shouted, "It's a long drive. Is it fair? Is it foul? It is." When you are speaking a million words a season, you are bound to make an error from time to time.

Sometimes he would forget what park he was in. After all, they are basically alike. "Hi, everybody," he said once. "This is Herb Score coming to you from Milwaukee County Stadium." A silence followed, in which it was obvious someone was correcting him.

"What," exclaimed Score, "Oh, Chicago's Comiskey Park. No wait a minute. I'll get this right. Kansas City's Royals Stadium."

Then there was the time he said at the end of an inning, "Two runs, three hits, one error, and after three we're still scoreless."

Score retired at 64, after the Indians lost the World Series to Florida in 1997. "It's just time," he said. He almost never came to Jacobs Field, now Progresive Field, after that. He had been with the Indians, as a player or announcer, for almost 6,000 games.

Score's youngest daughter, Susan, who had Down Syndrome, died in 1994 of heart problems. She had been in supportive living arrangements since infancy, and Score became a strong advocate and fund-raiser for one such facility, Our Lady of the Wayside.


On Oct. 8, 1998, Score was almost killed in a car accident. He had been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame the previous night in Akron, then left the hotel early that morning to drive to Florida. He was alone in his Buick Riviera when he pulled into the path of a tractor-trailer in New Philadelphia, about 80 miles south of Cleveland.

The news report said he suffered bruises to the brain and lungs, face cuts, a broken bone above an eye and three broken ribs. He was unconscious and put on a ventilator. He was pronounced in critical but stable condition at Aultman Hospital, Canton.

Score was inducted into the Press Club of Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame the next month, but could not attend the ceremony. He recovered in time to throw out the first pitch of the Indians home season in April 1999. He was being treated by a speech therapist at the time. In 2000 he had hip replacement surgery. In 2002 he was still taking physical therapy.

I spent many a summer night listening to Herb on 3WE back in the day. He wasn't fancy; he didn't have a broadcasting schtick like Bob Prince or Ernie Harwell, but was a treat to hear.

His homer call was, "There's a long fly ball to (whatever) field...way back...it's gone." It didn't matter whether it was Andre Thornton, Cory Snyder, Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome or whoever (except Duane Kuiper :jawdrop: ).

RIP and God bless you, Herb. Thanks for feeding a boy's love of Cleveland Indians baseball.

Last edited by a moderator:

Users who are viewing this thread