Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A fond farewell to Herbie

"Two runs, three hits, one error, and after three we're still scoreless."

Said as only Herbie could say it.

Herb Score took to the mic at Indians games for the first time late in the 1963 season, when I was six, about to turn seven. Back in the days when utility infielder Jerry Kindall was my favorite Indian because he was the first one whose baseball card I was able to obtain.

Herbie remained behind that mic, with one partner or another, for 34 more years - the one constant as I made my way through grade school, high school college and on to New York as a twenty-something.

Herb Score is my first and most-lasting image of the Tribe. He introduced me to baseball, talked me through the horrible years of the 70s and 80s and came along with me when I left the Cleveland area nearly 25 years ago.

In those days - 1984 to be precise - there were no mass-produced satellite dishes, and no MLB Extra Innings package. I had to wait for the sun to go down (not until the 6th or 7th inning during the heart of the summer) to pick up Herbie on my Walkman radio. His voice would come crackling into my suburban New York home from "Radio Free Cleveland," as my wife would tease.

My Walkman, newspaper clippings that my brother would send religiously every week, and Herbie were my only connections to the Tribe for about a decade, giving way only when I became the first on my block to have a satellite dish and my new connection to the Tribe.

Still, with the picture beaming in loud and clear, I'd find myself turning down the TV sound late in the game, turning on my Walkman and tuning into that familiar voice who made me know I was indeed watching an Indians game, no matter how well that team with Chief Wahoo on its cap was playing. Hearing Herbie describe the action I was seeing on my silenced TV set helped me to believe that those great teams of the mid-90's were indeed the team I had been living, and mostly dying with for all those years.

Today we hear the news that Herbie is gone.

No need to recap Herbie's great career both on and off the field. The Plain Dealer does a fine job of it here.

Instead let me just tip my cap to the man who was the Cleveland Indians for me and pretend I can hear one last "thwow to first, back safely" for old-time sake.

No comments: