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The eyes have it: Max Scherzer embraces 2 different eye colors

/ 12:04 PM October 22, 2019
Max Scherzer Nationals

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer speaks during a news conference for baseball’s World Series Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Houston. The Houston Astros face the Washington Nationals in Game 1 on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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.

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“I’ve always celebrated it,” he said Monday, 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 colors since he was a baby. When he was in grade school, all the people in his drawings had two different eye colors.

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“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 “chroma (color).” A study of 25,346 people in Vienna released in 1979 found an occurrence in 65, or 0.26%.

Actors with the condition include Dan Aykroyd, Elizabeth Berkley, Kate Bosworth, Mila Kunis, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Jane Seymour.

Seymour, who has one green eye and one brown with a small speckle of blue and green, recalled the day Harry Saltzman and his co-producers were about to introduce her at an early 1970s news conference for being chosen to play Solitaire in the James Bond film “Live and Let Die.”

“And then they looked at me and said, wait a minute, you have two different colored eyes. And I went ‘Yes’ with joy. And they said, ‘Oh, well, you’re going to have to wear contact lenses. We’re going to have to dye your hair black,’” she recalled Monday. “And I remember, I looked at Harry Saltzman and said, ‘Should I have a wooden leg? What else are we going to change about me? I’m so perfect. You’re about to show me to the world’s press. I’ve never done anything like this in my life, and it’s going to be terrifying anyway. And the first thing you said before I go out there is that I’m imperfect because of my eyes.’”

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TAGS: Baseball, Houston Astros, Max Scherzer, MLB, Washington Nationals, World Series
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