CLEVELAND -- Herb Score, a Cleveland Indians pitcher and former broadcaster whose promise on the mound was shattered by a line drive, died yesterday. He was 75.
Score died at his home in Rocky River, Ohio, the team said in a statement. He had been in a wheelchair since suffering a stroke in 2002, four years after he was seriously injured in a car accident.
A hard-throwing left-hander with a big fastball and big heart, Score pitched for the Indians from 1955-59. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1955 after going 16-10. He went 20-9 in 1956 and was twice named to the All-Star team.
But Score's career took a sad and nearly tragic turn on May 7, 1957, when Gil McDougald of the New York Yankees lined a ball off Score's right eye, breaking his nose and a number of bones in his face. As Score lay fallen on the field covered in blood, the public address announcer asked the crowd at Municipal Stadium, "If there is a doctor in the stands, will he please report to the playing field."
Fearful of being hit again, Score changed his pitching motion, with less than favorable results. After two losing seasons in Cleveland he pitched parts of three seasons with the Chicago White Sox. He never won more than nine games after the injury and retired in 1962 with a 55-46 record and 837 strikeouts in 858-plus innings.
"Herb Score, who was signed by the same scout Cy Slapnicka as I was, would've been just as good if not better than Sandy Koufax if it wouldn't have been for his injury to his eye," Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller said. "And Sandy Koufax was the best pitcher I ever saw in my lifetime. Herb was a very dear friend of mine."
Not long after ending his playing career, Score began a second one in baseball when he joined the Indians' TV broadcast team in 1964. He moved to radio in 1968.
A native of Rosedale, N.Y., his deep voice and thick New York accent became a fixture for generations of Indians fans. He retired from broadcasting after the 1997 season, his 34th in the booth.
"Today is a sad day for the Cleveland Indians family and for Cleveland Indians fans everywhere," president Paul Dolan said in a statement released by the team.
Score is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Nancy, and three children.