“I’ve just traded hamburger for steak”

Rocky Colavito (left) and Harvey Kuenn in their new 1960 wardrobes. Could showing this photograph around Cleveland still get you run out of town . . . after you’ve been broiled, basted, batter-fried, braized, and beaten into a froth?

The American League’s 1959 home run champion wanted a $5,000 raise for 1960. His team’s general manager forced him to haggle yet again, signed him to a 1960 contract with the raise . . . and traded him out of town for the American League’s 1959 “batting champion” on the final day of spring training.

“We’ve given up forty homers for forty doubles,” said that general manager, Frank Lane of the Indians. Actually, it was 42 home runs for 42 doubles in 1959, but let’s not get technical.

To this day, Rocky Colavito (the 42 homers) thinks Frank Lane is a seven-letter euphemism for a male sexual prophylactic. Cleveland citizens probably call Lane far worse. To them, Colavito for Tigers veteran Harvey Kuenn (the 42 doubles) was even worse than Chicago would come to see Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio.

As Cleveland Plain-Dealer columnist Terry Pluto observes, Colavito was an Indian on his first Opening Day 65 years ago though he didn’t play in that game. The Indians wanted to return him to the minors for a spell, but Colavito balked until the team’s then-GM, Hank Greenberg, a Hall of Famer Colavito admired, assured him: let us fix this little roster problem we have and you’ll be back in three weeks.

Greenberg proved as good as his word and then some, which meant the world to the straight-shooting Colavito, like Greenberg a native of the Bronx. Colavito appeared in only five 1955 games, but in 1956 he hit 21 home runs to crown a full, fine rookie season and he asked Greenberg for a $3,000 raise. Greenberg gave it to him: $1,500 immediately, with a promise of a second $1,500 if he played 100 or more 1957 games. He did.

“I went right up to his office,” Colavito told Pluto. “Hank looked at me and said, ‘I know why you’re here.’ He then told (Indians traveling secretary) Bob Gill, ‘Get Rocky his check for $1,500.’ Hank Greenberg was the greatest general manager I ever had. He always was a man of his word.”

Not so Lane, whom Pluto once recorded in The Curse of Rocky Colavito as having reneged once too often on this or that assurance for Colavito’s taste. Right down to Lane’s late spring training 1960 assurance that the last thing on his mind was trading his right field star. Until he made the deal.

Colavito, the matinee idol with the big swing, the fine throwing arm, and the reputation for fan friendliness that went so far as to insist children clamoring for his autograph line up properly and say “please” and “thank you.” (What a surprise that Indian fans lived by the watchword, “Don’t knock the Rock.”) For Kuenn, the grizzled shortstop-turned-outfielder with the persistent clump of chewing tobacco in his cheek, the increasingly persistent leg issues, and a similar contract haggle approaching the 1960 season.

Lane had another issue with Colavito, which Pluto also recorded in the aforementioned book. Lane preferred baseball players who lived and drank hard. Like his best friend and ill-fated Indians roommate, pitcher Herb Score, Colavito was anything but the hard-living, hard-drinking type.

Even before taking the Indians’ GM job, Lane was infamous around baseball for treating trading as the most persistent itch that required a scratch. As the Cardinals’ GM previously, Lane was notorious for building a trade involving Hall of Famer Stan Musial that was stopped only by the intercession of owner Gussie Busch, who knew St. Louis would send him and anyone else associated with the team to the rack if it went through.

“Some of [Lane’s] trades were nuts, and some were good,” said longtime Cardinals GM Bing Devine. “Frank Lane was a great trader,” said longtime Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi. “But when I say that, I don’t mean the trades he made were great.”

Indians manager Joe Gordon walked out to first base after Colavito arrived in the team’s final exhibition game to tell him he’d just been dealt to the Tigers. “I’ve just traded hamburger for steak,” crowed Lane, who’d been trying to pry Kuenn out of the Tigers for several years.

Lane was also a typical baseball man of the time in that he tended heavily to rate players according to their “batting averages” alone. For all we know, Lane shrugged it off if he didn’t laugh his head off when Branch Rickey published a Life essay that said among other things that “[b]atting average is only a partial means of determining a man’s effectiveness on offense”—in 1954.

To Lane, trading the AL’s 1959 home run king for the league’s 1959 “batting” champion trading as he also said “forty home runs for forty doubles” made all the sense in the world:

We’ve added fifty singles and taken away fifty strikeouts . . . I’ll probably make bobby-soxers mad at me, but they’ve been mad at me before . . . I realise Colavito is very popular. There were many people who came to the park to see him hit a home run, whereas they wouldn’t come to the park just to see Kuenn hit a single. But those singles and doubles win just as many games as home runs . . . Rocky’s best year was 1958 when he batted over .300 and hit 41 homers, but our attendance was only 650,000 because we didn’t have a contending club.

“Where do you begin to shovel through this pile of public relations pap spewed out by Lane?” Pluto asked in his book. “Last time I checked,” said Sporting News writer Hal Lebovitz, whom Pluto also cited, “a single doesn’t count as much as a home run.” The last time I checked, the 1959 Indians were second in American League home attendance (1.50 million fans) to the Yankees (1.6 million).

Let me show you Hamburger vs. Steak in 1959 according to my Real Batting Average metric. (Total bases + walks + intentional walks + sacrifice flies + hit by pitches / total plate appearances.)

1959 PA TB BB IBB SF HBP RBA
Rocky Colavito 664 301 71 8 3 2 .579
Harvey Kuenn 617 281 48 1 7 1 .547

Now, let me show you Hamburger vs. Steak from Colavito’s first full major league season through the end of 1959:

1956-1959 PA TB BB IBB SF HBP RBA
Rocky Colavito 2166 992 275 14 16 7 .602
Harvey Kuenn 2572 1049 201 16 18 4 .501

This may have been one of the more polite Cleveland protests after the Colavito-for-Kuenn trade. (Akron Beacon-Journal.)

Both players dealt with nagging injuries in those four seasons, though Kuenn probably had the harder time of it. He depended as much on his legs as anything else to succeed and those were his most often injured parts. He’d pounded them, too, playing shortstop in his first few years, though it did him little good: as a shortstop, Kuenn was worth 27 defensive runs below his league average.

Colavito was also a superior defender; as a corner outfielder, his lifetime numbers show him worth 61 defensive runs above his league average.

What Lane also didn’t either think about or comprehend if he did think was that Colavito was hurt somewhat by Municipal Stadium, that pitching paradise and hitting challenge. Colavito hit far better on the road. Kuenn had the opposite issue: Tiger Stadium was a hitting haven. He hit far better at home, but coming to Municipal Stadium was likely to be a nightmare.

Well, now. Kuenn missed quite a number of 1960 games thanks to further nagging injuries and, yes, when he could and did play he did hit better on the road than at home. The split isn’t glaring since he was essentially a singles-and-doubles hitter with about as much power as a push mower, but “batting average” Nazis should note that thanks to age and injuries Kuenn would never hit as high as .308 again (his 1960 “batting average”) the rest of his career.

According to Pluto’s book, Colavito was given another stab in the back by Gordon, who seems to have told those who would listen that Colavito’s immediate reaction to the trade was, “For Kuenn and who else?” Colavito denounced the remark as the biggest. lie. ever.

I never said anything negative about Harvey Kuenn. After that, I never had any stomach for Gordon or Lane . . . I feel bad for Harvey because he caught some of the public backlash from the deal. Harvey was a helluva player, and he could really run when he was younger. He once got five infield hits in one game. I don’t know if I got five infield hits in my career. If I could run like Harvey I would have been a lifetime .300 hitter. But Detroit wanted to trade Harvey for me because they weren’t sure how much longer his legs would hold up. That was a big factor in the trade, and no one talked about it until long after the deal had been made.

Devastated as he was by the trade and by the betrayals he felt, Colavito’s 1960 opening with the Tigers had to make him feel worse: the Tigers opened against the Indians. He had to fly with the Indians from spring training to Cleveland and then change sides. He went hitless in the first of the two games but smashed a three-run homer in the top of the fourth off Jim Perry in the second game.

“The first year in Detroit was rough for me because I had left a place and a team that I loved and the fans in Cleveland loved me,” Colavito told the Detroit Free Press in 2020. “I am sure it was the same for Harvey, who was a really good man. Even my neighbor at the home I rented in Detroit said to me: ‘I don’t care who you are, I was a Harvey Kuenn fan.’ That was the last time we ever spoke. In the home opener in Detroit, I remember it was a very warm day and that I hit a two-run homer and we won.”

Yet when 1960 finished shaking out, Colavito still came out ahead of Kuenn, according to RBA:

1960 PA TB BB IBB SF HBP RBA
Rocky Colavito 616 263 53 4 3 4 .531
Harvey Kuenn 537 197 55 6 3 4 .493

No wonder then-Tigers GM Bill DeWitt, who’d partnered with Lane on the Big Trade, crowed back, “I like hamburger.” Even though DeWitt’s 1960 Tigers weren’t exactly world beaters at hitting or reaching base overall, even though four of his top five players by wins above replacement-level player were pitchers. (Hall of Famer Jim Bunning plus Frank Lary, Don Mossi, and Dave Sisler.)

Neither Colavito nor Kuenn would be the quite same player they’d been before the Big Trade, though Colavito hit 139 home runs in four seasons as a Tiger. As a matter of fact, Colavito was anything but a Detroit breakdown:

Hold That Tiger! PA TB BB IBB SF HBP RBA
Rocky Colavito 2723 1171 346 22 26 9 .578

In due course, Colavito would have an encore in Cleveland, under a far different regime, but also far from his early seasons when the Tribe remained serious American League contenders. Lane had much to do with reducing the team to also-rans, of course.

Kuenn would learn the hard way what it was like when Lane decided you didn’t fit into his plans. After a 1960 in which he finished fifth in the American League with that .308 “batting average,” but missed most of September due to injuries, Kuenn signed a 1961 contract. Lane called him “untouchable”—until he wasn’t, trading him to the Giants for pitcher Johnny Antonelli and outfielder Willie Kirkland.

Antonelli turned up with arm trouble and the coming end of his career. Kirkland would average 25 home runs a season as a three-year Indian but offered not a lot else other than plus defense in the outfield, then tapered away in Baltimore and Washington before going on to play six seasons in Japan.

Kuenn would remain a respected veteran who still knew how to hit when he was healthy. But he’d also finish his career with the strange distinction of having made the final outs in two no-hitters by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax: in 1963, as a Giant; and, more famously (Two and two to Harvey Kuenn!—Vin Scully), in 1965 as a Cub.

He’d also be one of the four-man committee (with his old teammate Bunning plus Pirates pitcher Bob Friend and Hall of Fame former Phillies pitching great Robin Roberts) who ended up finding and hiring Marvin Miller to run the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Lane had one final dagger to stick into Colavito, in 1965, when the two men bumped into each other by happenstance after the Kansas City Athletics—for whom Colavito played one season, 1964—traded Colavito back to Cleveland. As Colavito told Pluto, Lane told him the A’s traded him because owner Charlie Finley didn’t want to negotiate a contract with him.

“Who knows if that’s true?” Pluto asks. Who knows, given what’s only too well known of Lane, if it’s not true? This was the man who once said his best trade was sending a kid named Roger Maris to the A’s for infielder/outfielder Woodie Held and first baseman Vic Power.

Well, now. Held was a versatile player with some power; Power was a flashy first baseman with a little less power but enough defense and four All-Star teams while he was at it. You’ve probably heard Maris had a little more to come. When he ended up in New York, as a back-to-back American League Most Valuable Player, and smasher of ruthsrecord, Lane’s tune changed faster than a disc jockey’s patter.

“If I’d known Maris would end up a Yankee,” Trader Lane sniffed in due course, “I never would have made that deal.”

By 1964, Lane had this to say about trading Hamburger for Steak: it was “the most unfortunate I ever made—not from a baseball standpoint but from the fans’ standpoint. The gals loved that boy with his boyish grin.” The gals and everyone else might also have loved the forty home runs a season Colavito averaged as an Indian between 1956 and 1959. Chicks dug the long ball even then, but they weren’t the only ones.

When Lane died at 85 in 1981, only one baseball person showed up for the funeral, and that only at the request of then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn: Bobby Bragan, whom Lane fired as the Indians manager in 1958. Bragan denied the long-holding Cleveland legend that he put a curse on the Indians upon his departure.

“I didn’t put a hex on the club,” he said in his memoir, You Can’t Hit the Ball with the Bat On Your Shoulder. “Having Frank Lane as the general manager was curse enough.”

Especially when he really traded prime rib for meat loaf. From a baseball standpoint.

Pants on fire! McDougald didn’t kill Score’s career

0000 PantsOnFire03 HerbScore

The real story of Herb Score and Gil McDougald isn’t as simple as you might still think.

When Anthony Rizzo lined a base hit off Jameson Tallion’s head Monday, there must have been those who’ve watched baseball since before I was born who had two names in the center of their minds: Herb Score and Gil McDougald. As you might imagine they pop into those minds any time they’ve seen a pitcher drilled by a liner back to the box, in the head or otherwise.

Because, well, everybody knows that when McDougald, the Yankee jack-of-all-trades of the 1950s, caught hold of Score’s heater and drilled it right into the face of the Indians lefthander, that 7 May 1957 afternoon, that was it, kiss it goodbye for Score’s promising career. Right?

Wrong. Stop saying that, once and for all. Because that wasn’t quite it for the popular, talented pitcher who eventually became an even more popular Indians television broadcaster with a Yogi Berra-like flair for malaprops. (A classic: He makes the catch for the final out. And after three, the score, Cleveland 4 and the Indians 2.) And, a reputation as a gentleman who wouldn’t harm the proverbial fly.

“He’s such a nice guy,” one-time Indians third baseman Buddy Bell said of him, “that I’ll bet he makes the bed in his hotel when he wakes up in the morning.”

This is what is true: Until that afternoon, Herb Score was, essentially, Sandy Koufax before Koufax became Koufax. He’d just led the majors in strikeouts back-to-back, the 245 he punched out shattering Grover Cleveland Alexander’s record for a rookie pitcher and standing as the rookie record until Dwight Gooden broke it in 1984. His 9.7 strikeouts-per-nine rate led the majors, and he won the American League’s Rookie of the Year award pretty handily.

Score struck out 263 in 1956, again leading the majors as did his 9.5 strikeouts per nine and his 2.78 fielding-independent pitching rate. (ERA minus defense behind you.) He was also a 20-game winner in ’56. His rookie wins above a replacement-level player were 5.6, considered All-Star level or better; in ’56, he had 7.3, just shy of what WAR considered a Most Valuable Player-caliber season. He was an All-Star both those seasons, and his only blemishes seemed to be walks and wild pitches; he led the majors in the latter both years.

“Herb Score is the toughest pitcher I’ve faced,” Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was quoted once as saying. “I just can’t hit him.” (Not entirely true: Mantle hit .250 against Score lifetime, with two homers, five runs batted in, and an .859 OPS.)

Score was in his fifth game of the 1957 season when McDougald’s liner flattened him. He had 39 strikeouts, a 9.8 strikeouts-per-nine rate, and a nifty 2.00 earned run average against his 2.50 FIP, not to mention 39 strikeouts in 36 innings.

2019-04-11 HerbScore02

Score in motion, long before the fateful line drive . . .

Score was pitching in the top of the first and had just gotten rid of Hank Bauer on a ground out to third base when McDougald, playing shortstop that day, came up. On 2-2 he caught hold of a low fastball and drilled it, and Score hit the mound in a heap with his hands over his face after the ball ricocheted.

But every eye in Cleveland’s old Municipal Stadium (a.k.a. the Mistake on the Lake) was on the stricken Score. Indians outfielder Rocky Colavito, Score’s roommate and best friend, hustled in and slid his glove under Score’s head after Score turned in agony from his left side to his back.

Score was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Hall of Famer Bob Lemon relieved Score and finished the game, the Indians winning, 2-1, with Colavito himself pushing both Indian runs home: in the seventh, when his sacrifice bunt attempt turned into a throwing error to third allowing Vic Wertz to score the tying run (Bauer had an RBI single in the top of the seventh); and, in the eighth, when he worked out a bases-loaded walk.

McDougald finished the game, but couldn’t contain his grief, either.

“I heard the thud of the ball hitting his head,” he remembered in 1994, to New York Times columnist Ira Berkow, “and then saw him drop and lie there, bleeding, and I froze.  Someone hollered for me to run to first. When Score was taken off the field on a stretcher, I was sick to my stomach. I didn’t want to play anymore.”

Yankee manager Casey Stengel insisted McDougald stay in the game. McDougald obeyed his manager but added, “If Herb loses his eye, I’m quitting baseball.”

Score didn’t lose his eye as things turned out happily enough, but McDougald incurred a truckload of fan abuse over the liner, fans often yelling “Killer” at him when he batted during Yankee road games. Score wasn’t one of his judges, though. Indeed, when the two men met for the first time after Score’s hospitalisation, as Score himself told a reporter, “I talked to Gil and told him it was something that could happen to anyone. It’s just like a pitcher beaning a batter. He didn’t mean it.”

Score’s sister, Helen, was living in Florida at the time and didn’t know what happened to her brother until after the game ended and she returned home from her government job. “When I got home, a lady said my mother had been calling,” she told the Palm Beach Post in 2018. “I got in touch with her and Mom said, ‘It’s bad, but he’s got the finest doctors in the world and they will do everything that they can. You need to go down to the church and say your prayers for Herb, but more than that to pray for Gil McDougald. That man is a hurting man’.”

2019-04-11 HerbScoreGilMcDougald

It wasn’t for publicity alone when Score shared this handshake with McDougald later in 1957.

McDougald tried to get updates from the hospital but personnel claimed they were ordered not to say a word to him or even to let him visit Score. (The only visitor Score was allowed, the Post said, was his fiancee, Nancy; the couple moved their planned 1957 wedding date up from October now that Score’s season was over.)

The versatile Yankee’s only reported solace came from Score’s mother, who told him likewise it wasn’t his fault. (A grateful McDougald visited Mrs. Score for years after their careers ended, whenever he was in Florida, the Post said.) But without losing his sight Score recovered and returned to the Indians in 1958.

After a pair of rough starts to open, he had a scoreless relief appearance to earn a save, then threw a shutout at the White Sox which included thirteen strikeouts, very much vintage Score. In his next game Score suffered a loss from an eight-and-a-third inning start in which he was tagged for three earned runs, but he suffered something a lot worse.

As Score himself would remember long after his career ended, it was a cold and wet night and he started feeling forearm soreness. In the seventh inning, he said, he bounced a pitch in front of home plate and his elbow flared on him.

Told he’d torn an elbow tendon, Score sat it out on doctor’s orders for thirty days, then took a relief turn against the Senators in Washington, where he’d first incurred the injury. The game started well, with Score striking out five of his first eight batters, until with two out in the ninth he “felt like someone stabbed me in my left arm.” He got a pop out to end the game on a lob of a pitch, but only pitched on and off the rest of 1958 hoping an off-season’s rest would resolve the elbow.

It didn’t. The theories began abounding; you can get the drift just from broadcaster Jimmy Dudley: “I still insist Herb never got over the effect of that blow to the eye. That would change anyone, and he changed his motion so he would protect his eye. I firmly believe that.”

Score firmly rejected that theory for the rest of his life. The evidence—you know, that pesky evidence—backs him completely. The elbow tendon tear, not the McDougald liner,  was the injury that ultimately finished him as a pitcher. His pitching motion changed trying to overcome any lingering elbow issue. Put down all the juicy speculations and lamentations and let Herb Score tell it himself:

Before I hurt my arm, I could go through an entire season and never scuff the toe plate [of his spiked shoe]. Later, I was ripping up a toe plate every game because I was dragging my foot . . . I couldn’t get out of the habit of dragging my foot, and that wrecked my entire motion to home plate . . . The reason my motion changed was because I hurt my elbow, and I overcompensated for it and ended up with some bad habits.

Score was never again the pitcher he was in 1955-56. After a very down 1959 and a 7.61 spring training ERA in 1960, there were those who believed the Indians gave him special coddling, including a few teammates, with only Rocky Colavito standing up for him.

Score actually had the infamous Colavito-for-Harvey Kuenn trade to thank for getting a trade of his own to a place he dearly wanted to go if the Indians’ infamous then-general manager, Frank Lane, wanted to be rid of him almost as badly as he wanted Colavito out of his sights. To the White Sox, whose manager Al Lopez was Score’s first Indians manager, and whom Score believed could help him get back on the right pitching track.

According to Terry Pluto, in The Curse of Rocky Colavitowhen Indians vice president Nate Dolin asked Score if he’d like to go to the White Sox, Score didn’t flinch:

I told him that it would be the best thing that could happen at this point in my career. Al Lopez had caught more games than anyone in major league history until Bob Boone broke his record . . . Al Lopez had had as much success with pitchers as any manager ever. I knew if anyone could help me, it was Al Lopez.

If it wasn’t for Dolin, Score and Lopez wouldn’t have their reunion. Lane was only too willing to deal Score—but not to Lopez, who’d resigned as the Indians manager after the 1956 season. Lopez accused the team’s management of not standing up for injury-addled third base star Al Rosen, who’d played through injuries down the stretch to furious booing from the stands and criticism in the press.

Pluto also wrote that Lane may have feared that Lopez could indeed revive Score, and that a revived Score could haunt the Indians for seasons to come. But in the heat over the Colavito trade, Dolin confronted Lane:

[Dolin] said something like, “If you have just one ounce of compassion in that bucket of venom you call a heart, you’ll send Herb to the White Sox.” Lane knew that because of the Colavito trade, Dolin still wanted to tear his limbs off and feed them to a family of hungry grizzlies.

For his part, Lane couldn’t let Score go to the White Sox without taking a gratuitous and  nasty slap at the clean-living, forthright pitcher:

Herb’s troubles are more psychological than physical. Maybe a change of scenery will help him. Lopez won’t be any more sympathetic toward Herb than [Indians manager Joe] Gordon was. But Herb will think he is and that may make a difference. Herb has a great imagination.

Colavito’s annual tangles with Lane over contracts, to say nothing of Colavito believing and telling the GM to his face that he was a proven liar (Pluto has cited chapter and verse), made him trade bait. But Score though there was another reason Lane was so anxious to be rid of the pair: “Part of it,” he said, “was that Lane believed ballplayers should be rowdy, hard-living, hard-drinking guys. But that wasn’t Rocky or myself.”

Lopez couldn’t help Score as things turned out, and Score spent the rest of his career between the White Sox and the minors until he bottomed out at Triple-A Indianapolis in 1963.

People asked me why I went to the minors to pitch. I still believed that my arm might come back. I was only thirty. I didn’t want to be sitting somewhere when I was sixty and wondering, ‘What if I had pitched one more year, would I have found it?’ Now I know. I have no doubts. I tried everything, and I pitched until they pretty much tore the uniform off my back.

The only place Herb Score sat at sixty was the same place where he began sitting in 1964, in the broadcast booth doing Indians games on television, until the end of the 1997 World Series. Voices of the Game author Curt Smith quoted a friend thus: “So what if he’s never been a Hall of Fame announcer? Look at it this way. Wouldn’t the city of Cleveland have turned somersaults over the last twenty years just to have ball clubs as decent as their announcer?”

Gil McDougald wouldn’t be quite the same player after the line drive, either. After a pair of very down seasons in 1959 and 1960, the Yankees left McDougald available for the expansion draft that created the second Washington Senators and the Los Angeles Angels. But McDougald elected to retire before that draft, exhausted, he said eventually, of the travel “and the attitude of the baseball people . . . they acted like they owned you and that they were giving you the moon and the stars.”

In fact, his own fate was hit by a line drive two years before his own nailed Score. McDougald was hit behind his left ear by a batting practise liner, in a genuine freak accident, as he eventually told Berkow, while he was behind a screen at second base talking to Yankee coach Frank Crosetti.

I saw a ball lying on the ground nearby and reached to pick it up, my head going just beyond the screen. Just then Bob Cerv hit a ball that hit me in the ear. I collapsed and everyone came running over. They carried me off the field, and I was out of action for a few games.

The doctors told me I’d be all right. Well, I wasn’t. The blow had broken a hearing tube. At first it just affected one ear, my left. One time I’m getting needled by some fan at third base, and I turned to [Phil] Rizzuto . . . and said, “Too bad I didn’t get hit in the right ear, then I wouldn’t have to hear this guy.”

A father of four, McDougald already had a dry cleaning business doing well. He eventually became Fordham University’s baseball head coach—until his right ear went deaf as well, ending his coaching career and forcing him to sell his dry cleaning and building maintenance business.

Berkow told McDougald’s story in 1994 with sad grace in “McDougald, Once a Quiet Yankee, Now Lives in Quiet World.” That, plus the happy followup Berkow wrote after McDougald underwent a successful cochlear implant to restore his hearing enough to allow him to function again, are collected in Berkow’s Summers in the Bronx: Attila the Hun and Other Yankee Stories.

If you think Herb Score spent the rest of his life lamenting what Gil McDougald didn’t take away from him, after all, think again, as Score told Pluto in 1993:

People tell me that I was unlucky. Me? Unlucky? I started with a great team in the Indians and played under a great manager in Al Lopez. Then I went from the field to the broadcasting booth at the age of thirty, and thirty years later I’m still doing the games. If you ask me, that’s not unlucky. That’s a guy who has been in the right place in the right time.

McDougald spent the last years of his life advocating for the hearing-impaired and for the manufacturer of his cochlear implant. After the implant surgery, during an office visit to the audiologist who programmed it after he healed from the procedure, with his wife and one of his children at his side, McDougald wept for joy.

As he told Berkow later, while his home bustled with children and the grandchildren “who came to see Grandpa hear,” as his wife put it, he found the words to describe the gift: “They’ve turned the music on.”

Score retired after the 1997 World Series. He survived a near-fatal 1998 road accident, but then suffered a stroke in 2002, and died in 2008. McDougald died of prostate cancer two years later.