Here are some stories of American athletes who, with the odds against them, fought back and "never gave up!"
Six no-hitters and three perfect games in three years of high school baseball, a total of eight hits allowed his entire junior year, brought scouts from 14 or the then 16 major league teams to his familyís home. Ten offered bonuses up to $80,000 if he would sign with them (a lot of money at that time); four said "Tell us your best offer and weíll beat it."
One of the greatest pitchers of all time with the Cleveland Indians, his life changed during his 4th year as a big league starting pitcher. During his fourth start of the season, May 7th, he was pitching in the first inning against the New York Yankees. He retired Hank Bauer and then up came Gil McDougald, Yankee shortstop. With the count 2 and 2, McDougald swung at a belt high fastball and lined it back at the pitchers mound. Score had his eyes turned away in his follow-through and he looked up just in time to see a white flash before the ball hit him squarely in the right eye.
Herb never lost consciousness and asked only one question of the hospital physician: "Am I blind?" His physician made him lay still for 8 days until the swelling subsided enough around the eye so Dr. Charles Thomas could clearly evaluate the damage. The retina had been torn, but not completely, and Score would not be blind but might have a blind spot. His vision was blurred for almost a year and no-one knew if he would ever pitch again. Herb couldnít tell if a ball thrown to him was three or 30 feet away. Exercises during the winter brought his depth perception back and he reported to Spring training saying "Iíve got to know if Iím gun shy and now is as good a time as any."
If this wasnít bad enough he injured his arm on his return to the starting lineup, tearing a tendon, but tried to pitch anyway literally "aiming" the ball rather than throwing it. He was ultimately sent down to the minors hoping he might be able to pitch again. In 1962 & 63, he attempted a comeback with the Indianapolis where he had started his career. "I didnít want to think 15 years later that I could have pitched if I had tried a little longer. I went out and proved I couldnít pitch." Then it was time to stop.
As a measure of the respect men throughout baseball had for him, he was immediately asked to come back to Cleveland to broadcast its games. Score had created a legend quite apart from his baseball playing: a good man with the potential for athletic greatness who didnít complain when the vision died young.
Courage belongs to people like Herb Score who labor, after injury, with little success for six years hoping they may find some part of their former brilliance. He could have quit many times and I know of many who have quit for less.
On the morning that Herbís and his Wife Nancyís second child was born Herb was scheduled to speak before a father and son Communion breakfast at their church. Nancy insisted he go even though he didnít want to. Herb spoke without notes and without mentioning what had happened that morning Ė no one there knew until later. He spoke of family, of love, of doing oneís best at whatever one does and of accepting what life offers without complaint. He could have been thinking of his "damaged" daughter; he could have been thinking of a throwing arm that mysteriously died. Those who were there said no talk of Herbís ever moved them more.
Had been the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers for 13 years. Suddenly he was benched in favor of a new quarterback named John Brodie. At times Y.A. thought "the hell with it. Quit the damned game. Youíve been at it too long anyway and youíve got an insurance business that can support your family." "But the next instant, Iíd get stubborn: Come back for another season and show them youíre still a good quarterback." Y.A. had been part of the 49ers all these years and now was no longer wanted. Traded to the New York Giants for a rookie lineman he decided to quit, but was talked out of it by Frank Gifford, his best friend. Y.A.ís coming to New York took courage!
During Tittles first play during the exhibition season against the Los Angeles Rams he bobbled the handoff and fell on the ball. A half ton of Rams fell on him Ė and cracked several bones in his back. Out five weeks.
Yet the 1961 season and the eastern division title "was just like being born again." In August, after coming to New York, Tittle had no one to even have dinner with. Four months later, the Giants gathered in a New York restaurant to celebrate winning the eastern division championship and when all the speeches and tributes were done, a spontaneous clamor went up around the room: "Y.A, Y.A., Y.A.," and the same bald man slowly rose and talked about the "greatest year in my life."
In 1962 the Giants won 12 of 14 games and Tittle tied a league record by throwing seven touchdown passes in one game against Washington. In 1963, at age 36, Tittle led the Giants to a division title for the third consecutive year.
After retiring at age 38 Y.A. came back to the Giants as quarterback coach. He is a legend in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He never, ever, gave up!
Author/speaker and an expert in ”Sports Performance Enhancement”. Jack Medina is available for speaking engagements, consultation and personal training of athletes in various sports, professional and amateur. Jack has written a new book, “The Winning Edge: Fueling & Training The Body For Peak Performance” with Dr. Roy Vartabedian, an internationally known New York Times Best Selling Author of the “Nutripoints” program for optimal nutrition. Both books are available online at www.jackmedina.com. Jack also has a monthly ezine (newsletter) available free which can be subscribed to on his website. All subscriber’s addresses will be confidential and not sold or given to any other organization or group.
This article contains copyrighted material. Copies of this article may be reprinted without permission of the author only when this bi-line is included with each copy. Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org