20,000 days ago, a promising young career came to a screeching halt.
It was May 7, 1957, and the Cleveland Indians hosted the New York Yankees. On the mound for the home team was Herb Score, one of the brightest young stars in the game. Two years earlier, a then 21-year-old Score had a national coming out party, fanning 16 batters in a 4-1 victory.
In his 1955 rookie season, he went 16-10 with a league-leading 245 strikeouts. Only one other pitcher in the AL struck out over 160. He averaged 9.7 K/9 in a league that averaged 4.4.
The next year, Score was even better, enjoying his first 20-win season while leading the league in shutouts, ERA+ and, of course, strikeouts. His 263 punchouts that year were 71 more than runner up Billy Pierce.
He was so well thought of that before the 1957 season began, the rival Red Sox offered the Indians $1,000,000 for Score—and Cleveland turned down Boston. That’s how highly his team thought of him.
The early going in 1957 made the Cleveland front office look smart. In his first four games, Score was 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 35.1 innings. In his wins, he’d allowed one run in 18 innings. Even in his other games he was impressive. He fanned 10 in 11 frames in his only loss, and in a no-decision he fanned 12 while recording 19 outs. Not bad.
It was the at-bat that nearly ended Score’s career and ruined his promise.
McDougald made solid contact with a Score offering and sent a screaming liner right back up the middle—and right into Score’s eye socket. He was bloodied and suffered several broken bones in his face.
Eventually Score recovered, but he would not pitch again that season. Early in 1958, it looked like he was on the way back as he threw a complete-game shutout with 13 strikeouts against the White Sox on April 23, 1958. Then, in his next start against Washington, Score injured his arm and had to change his delivery.
Was it the eye injury that ruined him or the less dramatic arm injury? Normally, the arm means the most, but how did missing 11 months due to an eye injury affect his arm strength? Score probably was headed for an arm injury even without his ghastly eye socket injury. He not only struck out a lot of batters, but he walked tons, as well. In his first start in 195,7 he was in double digits in walks and strikeouts, for instance. That’s a lot of mileage on an arm.
Regardless of what might’ve happened, what did happen is that a line drive shattered Score’s eye socket, and a once promising career never really lived up to its hope after that. And that shattering line drive happened exactly 20,000 days ago.
Oh – and there’s one little side note from that game. After Score left, Cleveland had to put veteran Bob Lemon in to pitch. He lasted the rest of the game and his 8.1 innings pitched proved to be the longest relief appearance of his career. He posted the win as the Indians topped the Yankees, 3-2.
Aside from that, plenty of other baseball events celebrate their “day-versary” or anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim the list.
5,000 days since Roger Clemens wins his 20th consecutive game, the last one in an impressive winning streak. During this period, here are his numbers: 30 GS, 5 CG, 211.1 IP, 161 H, 68 R, 63 ER, 73 BB, 240 K, and a 2.68 ERA. Oh, and of course a 20-0 record.
6,000 days since Cal Ripken makes history by appearing in his 2,130th consecutive game, tying Lou Gehrig for the all-time record. In the contest, the Orioles belt four homers in the second inning, including three in a row at one point.
6,000 days since the Astros and Reds have a brawl that will lead to a half-dozen suspensions. Both managers will be suspended, as well as Doug Drabek, Ron Gant, Pat Borders, and Xavier Hernandez. Houston wins the game handily, 10-1.
6,000 days since Greg Maddux tosses his fourth consecutive complete game, something that rarely happens in the 1990s.
6,000 days since John Jaha belts the 10th grand slam by a Brewer batter on the season, tying the 1938 Tigers and 1987 Yankees for a one-year club record.
6,000 days since Matt Lawton makes his big league debut with the Twins.
6,000 days since shortstop Rich Aurilia makes his big league debut.
7,000 days since the Atlanta Braves land one of the greatest free agent signings of all-time—arguably the greatest, in fact. They sign defending Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux.
7,000 days since the Cubs sign Randy Myers. He’s a great reliever, but the Cubs clearly lose more than they gained 7,000 days ago.
7,000 days since the Boston Red Sox sign longtime NL outfielder Andre Dawson as a free agent.
7,000 days since Marlins club president Carl Barger dies of a heart attack at age 62. The team has yet to play a game, but they’ll retire a number in his honor.
7,000 days since the Marlins sign free agent Fred McGriff.
7,000 days since the Dodgers sign free agent reliever Todd Worrell.
7,000 days since Reds owner Marge Schott apologizes for inflammatory comments she’d made publicly.
9,000 days since Alan Trammell hits his 100th career home run.
9,000 days since the Angels sign aging pitcher Jerry Reuss.
9,000 days since the Astros trade longtime third baseman Phil Garner to the Dodgers.
9,000 days since Orel Hershiser sets a personal best by striking out 14 batters in a game. It’s the only time he fans more than 11 in one contest. His numbers for the day: 10 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 14 K. He gets the loss when he surrenders the winning run in the 11th inning.
25,000 days since Arky Vaughan gets his 2,000th career hit. It takes his just 1,658 games.
30,000 days since Red Sox manager Bill Carrigan quits. It’s the second time he’s left the team, and it ends his managerial career.
40,000 days since the birth of Cardinals pitcher Wild Bill Hallahan.
Along these lines, at some point today it’ll be 1,000,000,0000 seconds since Hall of Fame starting pitcher Rube Marquard dies at age 90. Some point today also will mark one billions seconds since Carlton Fisk’s 1,000th hit, and Vance Law’s big league debut.
1867 Bug Holliday, outfielder, is born.
1887 The National League’s St. Louis Maroons franchise is sold to a group from Indianapolis for $12,000. They get the players in the deal, and the former Maroons are now the Hoosiers.
1915 Former Cubs pitcher Ed Reulbach signs with the Federal League’s Newark Pepper club.
1920 Babe Ruth asks the Red Sox for $15,000 of the money they made by selling him to the Yankees. Ruth later tells the press of the Sox owner, “The son of a bitch wouldn’t even see me.”
1926 The AL announces that, despite a recent joint-league decision by the Rules Committee to allow hurlers to use a rosin bag on the mound, AL hurlers can’t do that. (The league will backtrack and reverse itself two months into the year).
1932 The A’s release Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt.
1933 Brooklyn trades longtime star pitcher Dazzy Vance to the Cardinals.
1940 The Red Sox sell pitcher Elden Auker to the Browns.
1941 The Tigers release former Indians star Earl Averill.
1942 Fritz Peterson, pitcher and wife-swapper, is born.
1946 The Braves release aging veteran Joe Medwick.
1956 Boston purchases Pumpsie Green. He’ll later become their first black big league player.
1956 Connie Mack dies at age 93.
1956 Long Tom Hughes, pitcher from the early 20th century, dies.
1962 The Federal Trade Commission accuses Topps Chewing Gum of illegally monopolizing the baseball card industry. This case will stretch on seemingly forever until a 1980 court decision opens the playing field for Fleer and Donruss.
1965 Ray Kremer, 1930s pitcher, dies.
1973 MLB announces that “early bird” spring training camps are cancelled until the collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union is concluded.
1978 Milwaukee purchases hard-hitting centerfielder Gorman Thomas from the Rangers.
1982 The Dodgers trade longtime second baseman Davey Lopes to the A’s.
1983 Commissioner Bowie Kuhn orders former Yankees great Mickey Mantle to cut ties with Atlantic City casinos. Mantle will refuse, causing him to become persona non grata in MLB for the rest of Kuhn’s tenure as commissioner.
1995 Atlanta signs free agent reliever Gregg Olson.
1994 The White Sox sign amateur free agent Carlos Lee, “El Caballo.”
1995 A new era begins as the Dodgers sign Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo. He’s only the second Japanese player in North American history, but his signing begins a consistent stretch of NPB baseball players crossing the ocean to come here.
1995 The Giants release outfielder Darryl Strawberry.
2001 The Dodgers sign free agent LOOGY Jesse Orosco.
2008 The A’s sign free agent reliever Keith Foulke.
2009 Texas signs free agent Andruw Jones.