Little Red Scooter

Herb Score: one of the great Might Have Been's in baseball history

Herb Score: one of the great Might Have Beens in baseball history

To Martin’s Broad Agonistes, I note two Major League Baseball parallels: and our Right off the Bat is thus chockablock, many being downright spooky.

On the night of May 7, 1957, left-handed ace Herb Score—called by Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and most significantly by Cleveland Indians’s teammate Bob Feller the greatest lefty anybody had ever seen (Score had fanned a rookie-record-setting 245 batters in an era of fewer free swingers)—was beaned by a batted ball from Yankees’s Gil McDougald, likewise a prodigious ballplayer. Neither Score nor McDougald were the same. Their careers declined in tandem.

Perhaps a fate even more tragic was visited on Tony Conigliaro. In his second season with the Boston Red Sox he became the youngest player to lead his league (American) in home runs: 32. He worked at being something of a pop star then, with 45s “Little Red Scooter” (b/w “I Can’t Get over You”) and “Why Don’t They Understand?” On August 18, 1967, Conigliaro was struck in the eye by a pitch that got away from Jack Hamilton, only recently coming from the NL New York Mets. (There was no interleague play in those long-ago days.) Tho eventually more or less returning to form, briefly, Congiliaro would suffer a massive heart attack and stroke, aetat. 37, succumbing at 45.

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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