HOUSTON—Max Scherzer was taunted over his eyes as a kid. Now he treasures them.
Washington's Game 1 starter in the World Series against Houston has baseball's most unusual orbs: blue on the right, brown on the left, a condition known as Heterochromia iridis.
“I've always celebrated it," he said yesterday, a day ahead of the opener. "Whether you liked it or not, that's who I am.”
Known for his strikeouts, stamina and success, Scherzer has had different eye colours since he was a baby.
When he was in grade school, all the people in his drawings had two different eye colours.
“Whatever picture he had, he just figured that was just part of normal,” said his father, Brad.
“From first grade on, he's always embraced it. He's always thought it was fun. He's always made light of it. It makes Max unique. So that's why he likes it so much, I guess.”
Former big league pitcher Tommy Layne recalled facing Scherzer in youth ball back in suburban St. Louis.
Scherzer was far bigger than Layne's teammates and overwhelmed them.
During the lineup for postgame handshakes, Layne looked up and noticed Scherzer's eyes.
“No wonder we didn't win, we were facing a cyborg,” Layne recalled thinking.
Caused by the level and distribution of melanin in the irises, the condition's name comes from the Greek “heteros (different)" and "chrom (colour).”
A study of 25,346 people in Vienna released in 1979 found an occurrence in 65, or 0.26 percent.
Actors with the condition include Dan Aykroyd, Elizabeth Berkley, Kate Bosworth, Mila Kunis, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Jane Seymour.
Scherzer's unique lenses were twice celebrated in 2014 with different colored orbs on bobbleheads, first by the La Crosse Loggers, a Northwoods League collegiate summer league team in Wisconsin he played for in 2004, then then by the Tigers when they played Toronto.
He wore goggles with blue and brown lenses during postgame clubhouse celebrations, and he has adopted two dogs with the same condition: Rocco has different colours in each eye and Bo has eyes of half blue and half brown.
“It seems everybody kind of outside the baseball world will always text me photos of, 'Hey, you should get this dog. It's got two different colour eyes,'” he said.
“It makes it easy, there's a lot of dogs out there that have that.”
Seymour, whose 23-year-old son Kris Keach pitches for the Tucson Saguaros of the independent Pecos League, plans to be rooting for Scherzer on Tuesday night. As far as she's concerned, the eyes have it.
“I meet a lot of people who say their kids have been tormented and tortured at school because they have two colored eyes. And could I possibly speak to their child to let them know that this is not something to be ashamed of," she said. "It's something wonderful.”