Every year we have moments on the baseball field that recall certain other historical events. When I saw the replay of the Salvador Perez liner which struck and injured star reliever Aroldis Chapman last week, a couple of days later my thoughts started drifting back to a pitcher who appeared to be on an Hall of Fame track until a fateful Cleveland night in 1957 when a Gil McDougald liner hit him in the face almost cost him part of his eyesight. Even now, it’s probably the first thing many think of when they see Herb Score baseball cards.
Score did not pitch again in 1957 and although he did get off to a decent start in 1958, he was soon beset by arm miseries and the fastball which he had ridden to more than 500 strikeouts in his first two major league seasons was never the same. Score did hang around the majors for a few more years before becoming a beloved Indians announcer for more than three decades before retiring at the end of the 1997 season. He was incapacitated by a stroke in 2002, but had been a guest at card shows on occasion before that.
Score’s career began just as Topps was establishing their card monopoly and since his major league role was borderline after that fateful night, the number of Herb Score baseball cards that have been produced is relatively few.
Among his most popular cards are his 1956 Topps rookie and his second year issue from 1957, which is slightly more difficult within the first series than other cards from that run. High grade examples of his 1961 ‘Al’s Aces’ card that also features Early Wynn and and White Sox manager Al Lopez can be pricey because of condition issues. His last cards as an active player were the Topps and Topps Venezuelan issues of 1962. Score also appears on several team issue photo cards and an Exhibit card as well (you can see them all here).
While we hope Chapman returns to the form and the exuberance which made him a fan favorite, we are reminded of a previous career that could have concluded in an Hall of Fame selection if the path had continued the way it began in 1955 and 1956.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]