Scherzer starred in baseball, football and basketball at Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Missouri.
In 2003, Scherzer was drafted in the 43rd round by the Cardinals, out of high school in Chesterfield, Missouri. Being drafted by the home-town Cardinals fulfilled a boyhood dream. But, Max went to the University of Missouri instead. There, he was one of the best collegiate starting pitchers in the country.
There, Max was a finance major. He is a very mathematical guy, and is also very interested in real estate.
His father, Brad, is a budget systems analyst for hospitals. A younger brother, Alex, is working on his undergraduate degree in business at Missouri and hopes to get his masters in business administration.
Scherzer would love to finish off his own degree, and someday might. It likely won't be soon, he acknowledges, "given my job," as a professional baseball player. (Spring 2010)
Scherzer had a super sophomore season at the University of Missouri in 2005, getting the attention of scouts from every organization. Max held opponents to a .163 average, which ranked second in the country among starters, and led the Big 12 Conference with 131 strikeouts in 106 innings. Scherzer finished the year 9-4, 1.86 and then watched the honors pile up: Big 12 pitcher of the year, second-team All-American, Team USA starter.
In 2007, his teammates with the Mobile Bay Bears nicknamed him "Max-a-Million."
After the 2007 season, pitching in the Arizona Fall League, Scherzer went 1-1, 2.13 ERA in 13 innings out of the bullpen for the Scottsdale Scorpions. He struck out 18, walked five, and allowed six hits.
In 2008, Baseball America rated Scherzer as the 4th-best prospect in the Diamondbacks' organization.
Scherzer has unique multicolored eyes. He has heterochromia. His right eye is blue, his left eye brown. It stems from "genetic mosaicism," meaning in each eye he inherited different pigmentation.
Scherzer has company, lots of it. A short list of those with heterochromia includes: Dan Aykroyd, Christopher Walken, Jane Seymour, Kate Bosworth, Kiefer Sutherland, and Alexander the Great.
"I have fun with it," he said, insisting he hasn't grown tired, or irked, after thousands of curious questions. "It's something that makes me unique. I embrace it."
Max says his younger brother, Alex, a business economics major at Missouri, got him interested in baseball's deeper statistics. Scherzer said they had a months-long debate after Alex told him a pitcher has no control once a batter hits the ball.
"It took about a year of arguing with him for me to realize that actually is the correct way to think," said Scherzer.
Now, Max scrutinizes some very detailed websites that chart and graph every pitch and some that even detail the tendencies of each umpires' strike zone.
LOSES HIS BROTHER
Max's brother Alex died June 21, 2012. Alex was only 24, and had just graduated from the University of Missouri with an MBA and a job with Morgan Stanley in St. Louis. Alex committed suicide.
"He had so many positive things ahead in his life, which makes this tragedy even harder to swallow," Scherzer said, reading his statement. "Alex made this world a better place, and anybody I have ever talked to that knew him could only say how much fun they had being around him. Alex was the best brother I could have asked for, and he will always be missed."
Alex was his brother's biggest fan, as well as maybe his biggest antagonist. When Max first became a Tiger, and his fascination with numbers and statistics became apparent, he said it was Alex who got him into it.
"He got me into that type of thinking," he said. "I remember arguing with him, 'There's just no way that can be right.' You only see baseball from the mound. You never thought you could put a number on it or evaluate it from a different angle. And yet, probably for a year, he kept chipping away at me and saying, 'See? Look at this. I called it.' Finally, I was like, 'You're onto something.' There were some other driving forces to what makes a successful pitcher beyond just the normal scouting reports, executing pitches and all that.
"That was a part of the game that we shared, to have that type of mind to be able to see it from both sides. No one way is right. That's I think [what] he brought to me.
"He wasn't just book smart. He was street smart, too. Everybody who knows him, that's the one word that resonates with everybody is brilliance. He had a dry sense of humor, but it was brilliant the way he used it. Any conversation you had, he had an uncanny way to always make you think he was right."
At night, in moments of anxiousness or hopefulness, Max still reaches for his cell phone, wanting to talk to Alex. He'll find himself in a hotel room, tired after another stunning start for the Tigers, and wonder what Alex thought of the outing. Or he'll be at his condominium in Arizona, watching cable news, and think of a question only Alex could answer. Many months later, he can still see his little brother. Tall, handsome, with that goofy smile.
Alex, too, would reach for the phone whenever he had something to tell Max. He'd peck out a message, if only to let his brother know he was thinking about him. Back in September 2011, Max had struggled through a few starts. After one outing, in which he gave up several bloop hits, Max wondered what he'd done to deserve such bad luck. Alex typed a brief message: "If there's anything I've taught you, it's that #1 [s---] happens, #2 the non-scientific meaning is that you've now banked your juju for the playoffs."
Max hasn't deleted that text or the hundreds of others from Alex. He'll never remove his brother's number from his call list. In that phone are their lives together, moments precious now because they can never be recaptured. Publicly Max rarely discusses Alex. In fact, he says so little about his brother that his parents, Brad and Jan, worry about him, and how he's coping. Max simply tells them that he wants to focus on his starts, knowing that a solid outing will give his parents a brief reprieve from their grief.
But at night he doesn't stay so mentally vigilant, and if only for a second, when he needs the comfort, he tricks himself into thinking Alex is there, has a phone in his hands, is ready to talk one more time.
Scherzer is known for keeping up a pretty strenuous workout routine between starts. He's pretty good at fighting off the monotony, too.
A day after Scherzer delivered six innings, he was on the field at Comerica Park playing catch early, well before batting practice. Instead of simply tossing the ball around with strength and conditioning coach Javair Gillett, however, he was running wide receiver patterns and getting in some agility work.
Later, he was long-tossing from various points around the left-field and third-base stands, running the steps in between.
Scherzer said he has done the patterns for a while. He has always liked running the ballpark steps for stair work, but throwing in-between allows him to do two activities at once.
June 24, 2013: Scherzer became the first Major League starter to go 11-0 to start a season since Roger Clemens in 1997. Scherzer became the fastest Tigers pitcher to reach double-digit wins since Jack Morris won his 10th game in the 63rd game of the 1987 season. Detroit has never had a starter win his first 11 decisions to begin a season.
Scherzer is known around the Tigers clubhouse for his smart, outgoing personality—and his willingness to engage teammates in good-natured debate about pretty much any sport he can think of.
"He's the president of all pools. The March Madness, NBA Finals, the golf, Kentucky Derby—any kind of Derby, anything," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "Hot dog-eating contest. I mean, he has a bracket for everything, and it's perfect.
"Scherzer is definitely one of the smart guys in the clubhouse who can run things, but he's a lot of fun. He's funny, he's always keeping the guys interacting."
On January 9, 2012, it was announced that Scherzer would be one of six new inductees to the University of Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. While at Mizzou, he was Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2005. He was Mizzou's first-ever 1st round MLB pick.
In 2013, everything came together for Scherzer, not just on the field. He has put together the kind of season kids dream about, nearly unbeatable for the better part of the year.
"You always hope in this game that good things happen to good people," Scherzer's agent, Scott Boras, said. "And 2013 has been a good year for Max Scherzer."
Scherzer not only made his first All-Star Game, but started it. With the chance to become a free agent at the end of the 2014 season, he has put himself in position to set his family for life, whether he stays in Detroit or goes elsewhere. The winter after the 2013 season, he married his longtime girlfriend, Erica May, near his offseason home in Arizona, in the shadow of Camelback Mountain, which he climbs every week as part of his offseason workout routine. He has become the spokesperson for the movement to save wild tigers, a cause close to his fiancee's heart, through the Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Save Vanishing Species Tiger Stamp sold at Comerica Park. His blue-eyed, brown-eyed face is recognizable to all baseball fans.
Yes, 2013 is also the year he learned to let himself enjoy it. "I'm just enjoying life," he said. "I'm just having more fun this year. Everything I do, I'm just making sure I enjoy it to the fullest and just trying to have fun. And whatever happens, happens. I always look to have a positive outlook on life."
Asked if that was something he learned to do more after last summer, Scherzer paused. "Maybe," he said.
He's reluctant to talk about the death of his young brother, Alex, who took his own life in May of 2012. To watch him go about this dream season, however, shows a guy who has learned to appreciate each day and everything that comes with it.
In 2012, as he was preparing to go into the postseason, he talked about his outlook on baseball as producing joy for others: "The way I look at baseball now," he said at the time, "is it puts a smile on all my friends' and family's faces. Everybody, Tigers fans, everybody enjoys the game. Everybody enjoys watching us play and how much a smile it puts on a kid's face, us just going out there playing baseball and how much it means to everybody. When you're able to do that, that's what matters most."
He doesn't deflect pressure so much as he seems to flip it around. In that sense, he and Justin Verlander aren't that much different.
"I'm really proud of him," Verlander said. "He's that guy that every year people said, 'He could excel this year, he's got the talent to do it if he puts it together.' And this year, he put it together. It's been a lot of fun for all of us to watch. He did a great job just worrying about pitching and not letting the extra stuff get to him."
Scherzer will never let extra stuff take away from his focus on pitching. He talks about staying humble, but he also talks about his constant drive to improve, because he knows things could change in an instant. No player on the Tigers arguably knows more about numbers than Scherzer, a business economics major at Missouri. He learned about advanced metrics from Alex when he was in college, and he learned through his career how numbers can change.
"You never stay the same," Scherzer said. "You either get better or you get worse. For me, I'm always locked in on getting better." (10/02/13)
In 2013, Scherzer won the AL Cy Young after he led the Majors in wins, finished second in strikeouts (240), and third in WHIP (0.97). Yu Darvish of the Rangers finished second.
In the offseason, Max focuses on his legs and does a little lifting and running.
"Living in Arizona, I have the luxury to bike outside. I use my local surroundings to my advantage and run Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale about once a week," Scherzer said.
Max is superstitious.
Just how superstitious, he revealed at the Baseball Writers Association of America’s annual awards dinner in New York in January 2014. Max was there to accept his 2013 AL Cy Young Award.
After thanking his friends, family and teammates, he thanked retired Fox broadcaster Tim McCarver, who, during an interview early last season told Scherzer he was going to win the award.
“I was like well, you know, that could happen,’” Scherzer said. “ Well, I’m here now. So obviously he looks brilliant.”
So, too, does Scherzer’s belt choice throughout last season. He relayed an anecdote about a “lucky belt” he wore during his early season winning streak and how, before a game in Cleveland, he thought the belt was missing.
“I’m getting ready for the game and I’m looking for my belt and I can’t find my belt,” he said. “I mean, I’m panicking. Where is my lucky belt, where is my lucky belt.
“I go to the bat boy and I’m like, ‘Where’s my lucky belt?’ He comes to my locker and he grabs me one of the other belts and says, ‘You have a belt right here.’ I’m like, ‘That’s not my lucky belt!’ Sure enough, we tear through my locker and sure enough, it’s down in there and we find it and sure enough, that night in Cleveland, when I had my lucky belt and Tim McCarver had his prediction, I was going to win.” (Anthony Fenech - 1/28/14)
Max's wife is a vegetarian.
Under eye color on his drivers license it has the abbreviation "DIC" for dichromatic.
2015 Spring Training: Max Scherzer was warming up in the bullpen, getting ready to head onto the field to throw his first batting practice session for the Washington Nationals.
But first, the national anthem. "You've got to simulate it like it's a real game," Scherzer said. "It's always about the little things."
So before Scherzer could leave the bullpen, he turned to manager Matt Williams, who was standing near him.
Williams hummed "The Star-Spangled Banner" for him.
"It's Max's thing," Williams said. "He always takes that break for the national anthem when he prepares to go start a game. He wanted to take the break, so we hummed it for him and made him feel comfortable in that regard so he could go out and do his live BP."
So before Scherzer could leave the bullpen, he turned to manager Matt Williams, who was standing near him. Williams hummed "The Star-Spangled Banner" for him.
"It's Max's thing," Williams said. "He always takes that break for the national anthem when he prepares to go start a game. He wanted to take the break, so we hummed it for him and made him feel comfortable in that regard so he could go out and do his live BP." (By Carl Kotala)
- Scherzer said that there's still a lot of work to be done on the mound, and he says that he's still learning on the job at the close of Spring Training 2015.
"You never stop learning, no matter how deep you go in your career. That's something you have to be willing to do," Scherzer said. "It could be a pitch-selection type of pitch, even mechanical or how you attack a hitter. There are so many different things you can learn about your instincts, because when you are on the mound, you have to have good instincts on what you are trying to do and what the next pitch needs to be."
Take the time when Scherzer and righthander Anibal Sanchez were teammates with the Tigers. Scherzer said Sanchez was the best he saw at changing speeds with his changeup. Sanchez could throw his changeup between 84-88 mph, go down to 75, and then back to 88.
"I don't know how he does it, and you see hitters take stupid hacks at it," Scherzer said. "Something like that, you try to talk to him and figure out how you can add it to your game a little bit. There are constant conversations like that all the time." (Ladson - mlb.com - 4/2/15)
May 22, 2015: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond figured out what makes teammate Max Scherzer the competitor that he is.
Desmond realized that Scherzer wants to be more than just a great pitcher. Scherzer wants to be an all-around athlete. He wants to get better at the plate as well as having great instincts while running the bases.
"He wants to score runs and have a two-strike approach. He talked about when he swings and how he swings. That's good. That's stuff [pitchers] should take [seriously]," Desmond said.
Hitting and baserunning paid dividends for Scherzer as the Nationals edged the Phillies.
"I just go out there and compete as long as I can," Scherzer said. "That's why I love being a starting pitcher. I love going out there and giving everything I got. When I go deep in the game, it helps a ballclub even more. That's something I take pride in." (B Ladson - MLB.com - May 23, 2015)
In 2015, Scherzer was selected to his third All-Star Game, his first with Nationals.
Max started the Nationals' most-of-2015 tradition of dousing whomever produced a game-winning, walk-off victory in chocolate syrup.
It started on April 28 in Atlanta. The Nats rallied from an 8-run deficit to win 13-12 when Dan Uggla's 3-run home run brought the victory. During his post-game interview, Scherzer sprayed Uggla with chocolate syrup.
"It was something that just happened on the spur of the moment," Max said. "After we came back and won, I was like, 'We have to give him something.' I ran into the clubhouse and the thing I saw immediately in the fridge was that chocolate syrup. So I grabbed it,"
May 13, 2016: Two days after Max Scherzer tied the MLB record by striking out 20 batters in a nine-inning game, he took some time out of his schedule to pose at the greatest possible intersection in Washington, D.C. That's right, he was at the corner of 20th Street and K Street.
Turns out the District was the perfect setting for baseball's latest 20-strikeout game. (M Clair - MLB.com - May 13, 2016)
During the 2015 off-season, Max bought a dog (Rocco) with two different colored eyes to match his. (Intentional Talk - May 2016)
Max's wife played softball at the University of Missouri.
July 8, 2016: The joy was all over Max Scherzer's face after he was told he was replacing teammate Stephen Strasburg on the National League All-Star team.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who suggested to NL manager Terry Collins that Scherzer should be on the team for the 2016 All-Star Game, was excited when he heard the news.
"I'm excited for the organization and Max is excited," Baker said. "I've never seen a veteran get more elated. He is a good representative to show people what a privilege and an honor it is to go."
Scherzer will be appearing in his fourth All-Star Game. Scherzer didn't pitch in last year's game because he had pitched two days prior against the Orioles. This time, he hopes to pitch one inning.
"I was so pumped," Scherzer said. "The All-Star Games are so much fun to go to. It's one of the highest recognitions you can get. When I heard the news, I was going to replace Stras ... I was really happy. It's the best All-Star Game of any sport.
"This is a real game where you are going to see the best of the best. Something is on the line—home-field advantage for the World Series is on the line. The pitcher is coming out throwing gas, you get to see the best hitters in the world. It's a real baseball game. It's awesome to be a part of. " (B Ladson - MLB.com - July 9, 2016)
Scherzer loves to scuba dive—he says it's one of the safe enough recreational activities he can do as a professional athlete—and he and his wife, Erica, often do so on vacation. Like the Cubs' Kris Bryant, Scherzer has gone swimming with sharks: "We dive with sharks. We dive with everything," he said. "I did an unbelievable shark dive in Fiji, with like 15 bull sharks swimming around." In 2010, he also wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef while visiting a friend in Sydney—but he didn't realize the reef was more than 1,000 miles away. (David Adler - MLB.com - 2016)
Remember Scherzer's second no-hitter (second of the season and second of his career) back in 2015? So, of course, Scherzer saved the jersey from the game and kept it at his house. Although, he apparently didn't keep it in a safe enough place or, um, wash it, because his wife thought it was trash and threw it into the garbage.
Nov 18, 2016: Once his name was announced, the room erupted in cheer and Max was sprayed with champagne. They were sitting on a boat in the middle of the British Virgin Islands—an annual trip between college friends and their wives—while on a video call with MLB Network when they found out Scherzer had just been named the 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
It was the second career Cy Young Award for Scherzer, who also won the American League version of the award in 2013 with the Tigers. He became just the sixth pitcher in baseball history to win the award in both leagues. Scherzer received 25 of the 30 first-place votes and 192 points overall to best Cubs teammates Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, who finished second and third, respectively.
"For some reason, this just means so much more to me," Scherzer said during a video call from the middle of the ocean. "It just verifies everything I try to go out there and set out to achieve. The best is that I try to go out there and do it. By winning the second one, it confirms that everything I try to do works."
"For me, it's a culmination of everything," Scherzer said. "From the coaching staff, how they prepared us, that I was able to do it with both [catchers Wilson Ramos] and [Jose Lobaton], everybody together in unison, competing at the same level when I took the mound, to go out there and actually do it.
"Consistently I was able to do what I was capable of. I know I have to change my game. I would like to get better. I'd like to get better in 2017. But to win this award, there's so much history to it, so much meaning to it." (J Collier - MLB.com - Nov 18, 2016)
Dec 16, 2016: It was an easy decision for Max to pitch in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, even though he led the National League in innings in 2016 and has thrown at least 214 innings every season since 2013.
"When Jim Leyland calls and asks me to play, you don't say no," Scherzer said, referring to his former Tigers manager and the skipper for Team USA.
Scherzer played under Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones, who will also coach Team USA, for four seasons from 2010-2013. Scherzer has called Leyland one of his favorite managers of all-time, and he was excited to play under them again this spring. Scherzer was also enticed by the opportunity to represent Team USA after watching from afar and seeing the passionate fan bases and the atmosphere at the stadiums.
"I still don't know exactly when those games exactly happen or how much they're asking of me," he said. "I've just seen different games and videos where the fans are going crazy—especially in the Latin American countries—so it just seems like such an environment like that is what I want to pitch in. I'm not planning on doing anything different until I really find out the details of where they need me to be," Scherzer said. "But for me, it's just where I'm at in my throwing program." (J Collier - MLB.com - Dec 16, 2016)
January 9, 2017: It was discovered that Scherzer had a stress fracture on the knuckle of his right ring finger. The rehab process for that finger forced him to withdraw from pitching for Team USA in this year's World Baseball Classic.
When you can't decide which is cooler—a no-hitter or a 20-strikeout game—and you've done both, that's a pretty good indicator that your Major League career is coming along quite nicely. That's an obvious understatement for a pitcher of Max's stature, given he is only the second pitcher in Major League history with a resume that includes a no-hitter and a 20-strikeout game. Scherzer shares the distinction with Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.
Scherzer, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner from 2016, was the recipient of two Esurance MLB Awards in 2016, for Best Pitcher and Best Pitching Performance, the latter recognizing his 20-strikeout game. This was Scherzer's second award for Best Performance, having won in 2015 for his Oct. 3 no-hitter against the Mets.
Max has won a Cy Young Award in both leagues. In 2015, he threw two no-hitters, becoming just the fifth pitcher in history to throw two no-nos in the same season. In 2017, he led all active starting pitchers with a career 9.98 strikeouts per nine innings, and he's one of four active pitchers with 200 strikeouts in five consecutive seasons.
He's been asked on more than one occasion which was more exciting, his no-hitters or the 20-strikeout game? Scherzer gives obvious credence to both, but leans toward the latter as perhaps his top personal accomplishment so far.
"The more I've gotten away from each moment, I'm able to appreciate more the history of each accomplishment," he said. "The 20 strikeouts, it was so cool to be able to go out there and do that. I just remember that game just being locked, filling up the zone, constantly being in 0-2 counts and executing pitches. That one, I'll always remember." (Footer - mlb.com - 4/6/17)
As a follow-up to Max's winning the NL Cy Young Award in 2016, Scherzer had been perhaps the most dominant pitcher in the NL through 2017's first half. The reward for his sustained excellence is a starting nod for the NL in the 2017 MLB All-Star Game.
"It's unbelievable to get the nod. This is such an incredible accomplishment," Scherzer said. "When you walk in this clubhouse and you're with all the All-Stars, you're already singled to be in that clubhouse with that recognition. When you have a manger say, 'Hey we're going to give you the ball,' it's icing on the cake." (Collier - mlb.com - 7/9/17)
The sign said, "I'm proud to have the same eyes as my role model, #31, Max Scherzer." It's hardly a shock to see Scherzer pitch well, but perhaps he was given extra motivation by the young fan in the stands holding that sign. Although he was playing in enemy territory at Citi Field, New York, this kid was there for his idol.
Max looked to be in tip-top shape for the postseason during the Nationals' 3-2 win against the Mets. He earned the victory. Once Scherzer saw a picture of this fan, he simply had to respond on Twitter: "There we go! 1 blue, 1 brown. Now that's my #1 fan!"
Scherzer has always been a friend to those who also have multi-colored eyes (even dogs), so it's awesome to see him continue these bonds with more fans like this kid. That's a role model, for sure. (Mearns - mlb.com - 9/26/17)
Max is well-known for several reasons. But even more interestingly, Scherzer’s eyes gather a lot of attention. With one brown eye and one blue, the pitcher gains even more publicity. About 11 in every 1,000 Americans possess this condition, known as heterochromia.
Now the Nationals are marketing the rarity by selling customized M&Ms inspired by their ace pitcher. Vendors are selling bags filled with brown- and blue-colored chocolate candies during playoffs. Each candy has a “K” in the middle of it as well. (Kyle Cardoza - FanSided - Oct.7, 2017)
Nov 26, 2017: The last thing most of us want the day after Thanksgiving is for a giant cake to appear. After eating to max capacity just the day before, a big pile of sweetness doesn't sound as appealing as it usually would.
That said, we've found one exception to that rule. Fredericksburg Cupcake in Northern Virginia created a cake that not only celebrates Max Scherzer's three Cy Young Awards but looks delicious as well.
As hard as it will be to cut into such a beautiful work of art, it will be well worth it if it tastes even a fraction as good as it looks. (E Chesterston - MLB.com - Nov 25, 2017)
Nov. 29, 2017: The Scherzers' November just got even better after Max won his third Cy Young Award earlier in the month, he and his wife, Erica May-Scherzer, announced the birth of their first child. Welcome the adorable and tiny Brooklyn to the world.
April 11, 2018: Scherzer held Atlanta to two hits and struck out 10 in the ninth complete game of his career and his fifth career shutout. He did not issue a walk and did not permit a runner to reach second base.
Max even added his first career stolen base in the seventh inning, swiping second base without a throw after catching the Braves off guard. Scherzer joined Nolan Ryan (May 16, 1984, against the Pirates) as the only other hurler in the live-ball era (since 1920) to pitch a shutout, strike out at least 10 batters, and steal a base in one game.
July 2018: Max will start the game for the second consecutive year and third in his career, getting the nod to pitch in front of his home crowd and ballpark at Nationals Park. He will become the 12th pitcher to start an All-Star Game at his home ballpark and the first since Matt Harvey did so for the Mets in the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field in 2013 (a game Scherzer started for the American League).
Jan 18, 2019: Scherzer's number was retired by the University of Missouri. Max is already one of Missouri’s most famous baseball alumni, as the Nationals pitcher is considered one of the best in the major leagues.
Feb 2019: Scherzer is ranked No. 1 starting pitcher by MLB Network. Max still stands out in terms of consistent dominance year after year.
July 3-5, 2019: Max is on the paternity list. Scherzer is allowed to spend up to three days away from the team while he and his wife, Erica, are expecting the birth of their second child.
July 7, 2019: Max was selected to pitch in the All-Star Game, but was replaced by the Reds Sonny Gray on the NL roster. Scherzer, who pitched seven scoreless innings in a 6-0 win over the Royals, did not appear in Midsummer Classic, but he was expected to travel to Cleveland and participate in All-Star festivities.
July 9, 2019: This was the seventh straight year Max had been invited to the All-Star Game, but this experience was different from the rest. His daughter Brooklyn, who was born in Nov. 2017, came along for the ride for her first All-Star Game, waving to fans during the All-Star parade before making an appearance on the red carpet.
“This one was really special because I got to have my daughter,” Scherzer said prior to the game. “I never thought of that when I had my first All-Star Game, but here I am in my seventh and yet I get to have a whole new experience. That was absolutely amazing. That’s why I love coming here.”
Scherzer remembered his first All-Star Game, on the way to winning his first Cy Young award in 2013. He started for the American League that year and remembers sharing a clubhouse with the likes of Torii Hunter, David Ortiz and Mariano Rivera.
When he glanced around the National League clubhouse this year, however, he noticed something. Scherzer, who turns 35 in July 2019, was the old guy in the room now. The average age in the National League’s starting lineup is 25.8 years old. Scherzer even joked that he looked around for D-backs starter Zack Greinke to see if there was anyone as old as him in the room.
“It’s just funny how it’s changed,” Scherzer said. “And how I’m kind of it in that position.”
Indeed, Scherzer is now a pitcher with three Cy Young awards under his belt, making a strong case for a fourth with his excellent first half, with seven straight All-Star appearances, being named the starting pitcher in three different years and carrying the unofficial title as the best pitcher in baseball. But this all never gets old for Scherzer, who soaked up the 2019 All-Star Game like it was his first.
“Every year I come to this it’s such an amazing event,” he said. “The seventh one is just as special as the first one.” (Collier - mlb.com)
Sept. 2019: Scherzer was a bit of a late bloomer, leaving him behind the Cooperstown curve, but that’s a distant memory as he nears the end of an age-34 season that has seen him blow past 2,500 strikeouts and near 60 WAR. The righty already had a strong argument, pre-2019, based on a six-season peak that featured multiple no-hitters, a 20-strikeout game, three Cy Young Awards, and three strikeout titles. He now has a shot at joining Clemens, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux as the only four-time Cy Young winners.
2019 Season: At first glance, looking exactly like a rich, famous, beloved celebrity would be a great thing. You get to skip out on all the hard work it took to reach that point, and instead you simply get to live it up. You don't even really need to pretend, you simply just don't correct people when they say, "Please, I couldn't accept payment for this pizza from you, Extremely Famous Person," or "Could you please come to my daughter's wedding and eat all the free food and drink the free drinks? Your presence would just make us all so happy."
But you are so very, very wrong. Being a celebrity doppelganger is really just the world's biggest hassle. Case in point: There is this dude, who just so happens to look exactly like Max Scherzer:
He's Kevin Kramer, an Arlington, Va., man who does look pretty similar to the pitcher. He's got the nose down. His general face shape is about right. And, despite saying that he's not an impersonator, he bought the contact lenses necessary to pull off Scherzer's heterochromatic eyes.
Nationals fans who have been caught up in the revelry and have maybe consumed a few too many glasses of celebratory champagne certainly think they look alike. Which means Kramer has become a bit of a local celebrity.
Kramer's been stopped for photos, has been asked to throw out first pitches at rec league games and even needed a police escort to attend the Nationals World Series parade. A police officer told me they were helping get this guy through the crowd because a lot of people thought he looked like a very well-known player.
For once in your life, you're the star. People are clapping for you, they're cheering for you. You feel like a big deal. But what do you do when you have to go to the bathroom? What about if you want a hot pretzel? Sure, you could leave your escorts behind, but then you'll be faced with an entire sea of screaming fans who either know you aren't Max Scherzer and still want a photo with you, or think you're Max Scherzer and demand to know why you're not on stage with everyone else. (CUT4 - MLB.com - Nov 5, 2019)
Nov. 2019: Baseball had never before had an official star squad that salutes a full season's worth of work the way other major professional sports do. But the results of the voting for the first All-MLB Team finally arrived at the Winter Meetings. The Nationals Scherzer was named to the first team starting pitching group.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Max had a new April activity. Arts and crafts were a part of his daily routine. He was adjusting to his revised schedule while baseball was delayed due. Instead of long days at the ballpark, he was spending time in Florida with his family.
“Train in the morning, nap time in the afternoon, then being dad the rest of the night,” Scherzer said.
The Scherzer home was busy. Max's wife, Erica, underwent labrum surgery and his mother-in-law was there to help with their two young daughters. The household doubled in size with the addition of a former teammate and his family.
“This is a good story,” Scherzer said. “[Orioles catcher] Bryan Holaday, we’re good friends, and our wives are even probably better friends. When he came over and played [the Nats] in Spring Training, they were hanging out with us. And then all the virus stuff and the shutdown was going on, and we kind of just said, ‘Hey, if you guys want to stay.’… So we’ve got four kids going on, four dogs.
“We’ve got a whole little makeshift weight room that we work out at. We play catch, we run, we do everything. So here in our house down in Florida, we’re having a good old time.”
Scherzer said he is reminded of what he and the Nats accomplished in 2019 in random ways. He doesn’t necessarily have to be on the mound to appreciate their feat. “A Katy Perry song comes on, and it’s ‘Roar,’ and all of a sudden it says, ‘I am a champion,’” Scherzer said. “Like, ‘Yeah, I am a champion.’ All of a sudden, the song comes in a little bit better. It’s little moments like that where you recognize different things, what that means to win a World Series, being a champion, something we’ll always be able to say.” (Camerato - mlb.com - 4/2/2020)
April 17, 2020: Scherzer is one of the most intense players in MLB. He's also involved, a combination that could make him a solid future manager. The three-time Cy Young Award winner doesn’t do things “halfway.” (Even his bullpen sessions at the start of Spring Training were in high gear.) Scherzer has achieved a level of success over his 12-year playing career that would give him a wealth of knowledge to impart on a team. He already does that on a smaller scale in the Nationals' clubhouse, too, pulling together groups of pitchers as they soak up his information.
Scherzer, 35, has experience representing a team when he’s not on the mound. He is adept at league-wide issues as the Nats’ rep for the MLB Players Association and as a member of its executive subcommittee. (J Camerato - MLB.com - April 17, 2020)
With a black eye and a busted nose as the result of his own errant bunt attempt, Max knew he was in for it from his teammates. At one point, he found a sign near his locker, along with a football helmet, that read: "If you try bunting tonight ... PLEASE do us all a favor and wear this."
The Nats took full advantage of the chance to talk trash to Scherzer because the ultra-competitor is usually the one dishing it out. Max pulls no punches, from swearing and muttering to himself on the mound to the clubhouse pools he takes pride in dominating to the batting cage, where he constantly pesters hitting coach Kevin Long and other Nats’ position players about their approach at the plate.
Scherzer even took pride in beating a team broadcaster in a game of Connect Four. If Scherzer can turn it into a competition, he will not hesitate. And the back-and-forth trash talking is what he relishes. (MLB.com - Apr. 29, 2020)
Max had somewhere to be after the game. They were very important, pre-scheduled plans, too. So he efficiently dominated with a nine-inning, one-run victory in two hours and 37 minutes against the Marlins, and then he made a quick exit from Nationals Park.
Scherzer’s wife, Erica, was going into labor with their third child. “After the game, we talked a little bit and he was like, ‘I’m having the baby tonight, might as well pitch like that,’” catcher Yan Gomes said following the Nats’ 3-1 victory.
“Any time someone can bring a kid into the world, it’s pretty cool,” said a rally helmet-wearing Ryan Zimmerman, who gave Scherzer offensive support with a three-run homer in the third inning. “For him to go a complete game and pitch the way he did today and then go over and have a baby with his wife, pretty cool day for him. We’re happy for him. He never ceases to amaze, I guess is the best way to put it.” (Camerato - mlb.com - 5/2/2021)
May 2, 2021: Max's father's intuition is pretty strong, apparently.
The Nationals defeated the Marlins 3-1 in a game that began at 1:05 p.m. ET. The game lasted just two hours and 37 minutes, with Scherzer throwing the 12th complete game of a career that's likely headed for Cooperstown.
Max delivers, then heads to delivery room. Nationals ace pitched a five-hitter, then immediately joined wife for birth of third child
It's like Scherzer knew he had a limited period of time to work with, because his wife gave birth to their third child less than two hours after the game concluded. Derek Alexander was born at 5:38 p.m.
“It was pretty crazy,” Scherzer said. “I kind of like it that way. My wife, Erica, did, too. She likes it like that. She didn’t mind going to the hospital while everything was going on. It was even better to come back with a win.”
When Scherzer was named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter, Erica, began putting the wheels in motion to select a date for a C-section the following month. Ideally, it would coincide with one of Scherzer’s starts to have built-in off-days after that. He looked ahead in the schedule with manager Dave Martinez and determined a 5:30 p.m. appointment on May 2, following a 1:05 p.m. ET start vs. Miami, would do the job.
“We saw the weather coming into it that it was going to be good, so there really wasn’t any concern,” Scherzer said. “I wasn’t underneath any pressure. I just knew that once the game was over, all right, it's time to go directly to the hospital so there wasn’t too much of a panic. When you get to the hospital, it’s all smiles from there,” Scherzer said. “Everything went as planned. The doctors did great, and my wife did even better.”
Scherzer has been reporting to Nationals Park to get in throwing ahead of his next start against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2021. But he’s been kept busy at home on dad duty for his two daughters as Erica, who he refers to as “the rock of the household” and “my better half,” recovers. “There’s a lot of chasing around, let’s say that,” he said. (Camerato - mlb.com - 5/6/2021)
July 2021: Scherzer was selected to his eighth All-Star Game, but this time as a reserve.
2022 Q&A with Max Scherzer:
MLB.com: When I watch you pitch, you are intense and it’s fierce. Where did you get the intensity?
Max Scherzer: I don’t know. I always had it. I always enjoyed competing, playing and going as hard as I can. I thought it really came out when I was younger in other sports with other coaches. For me, I point to high school basketball playing for Coach [Rick] Kirby. I get to say his name again. I’m so happy about that. I get to say it, my favorite coach, Kirby. He was my high school basketball coach [at Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Mo.].
MLB.com: Why is he your favorite coach?
Scherzer: The way we played basketball. The intensity we played at, the defense we played, the team we had, that was … if you like how I pitch on the mound, you should have seen how I played some basketball.
MLB.com: Because every time I see you, Max, it’s like you are in another world. It’s like you are so focused on the field.
Scherzer: That’s where I tune out everything. I’m completely locked into my job. My job is to pitch. So I don’t let anything bring me up or bring me down. I’m not going to let the [opposing] offense … affect my job. I go out there and attack the other team. That works for me. Leave me alone. I’ll do my thing and once I come out, trust me, I’ll be pulling for everybody and I’ll have fun with everybody else.
MLB.com: You are a member of the Mets. Describe what it is like to live in the Big Apple?
Scherzer: This is wild. Having played in New York so many times in my career and now to be on the home side of this, this is pretty cool to have the New York fan base behind you instead of against you. I love when you have moments like that. For me, that’s the most exciting part to have the fans support you.
MLB.com: Compare living in New York to D.C., Detroit, Los Angeles and Arizona?
Scherzer: Every city has its own characteristics and own energy. You can’t compare any city to any city. Everybody has their own attitude. I feel like I know New York pretty well. I played against New York so much during my career. I definitely know, with the Mets, all you need to know about is 1986.
MLB.com: You are into analytics. What is the one stat you look at carefully and why?
Scherzer: You have to take every stat with a grain of salt. Baseball is not just about numbers. It’s not just about analytics. There is a lot of feel to this. You can look at every analytic, pitch metric, it doesn’t take away from what actually happens on the field. For me, you have to have a blend between what I call reality and then what’s going on with the analytics. You have to be able to merge the two together. But if there is a number I want to pride myself on, it's first-pitch strikes. I love throwing strike one. You show me that number and the people that lead [in that statistic], that’s right in my DNA.
MLB.com: Can the eye test work?
Scherzer: Oh yeah, 100 percent. I would lead with the eye test. Your eyes are reality.
MLB.com: You never had a major injury. What have you done to stay healthy?
Scherzer: Everything – training, mechanics, weight room. Everything you do in the offseason, in season, everything adds up.
MLB.com: What advice would you give young pitchers? It seems like young pitchers are always getting Tommy John surgery.
Scherzer: That’s a complicated question. Just how guys are developed now is the reason why we see more injuries in younger arms—from mechanics to pitch counts to everything. I feel everybody gets wrapped up in someone’s pitch count. It’s never the pitch count. It’s the amount of rest you get after your workload.
So you can throw 100 pitches, 110, 120. All those numbers are fine. It’s not the number that day, it’s how much rest you get behind it. To me, I feel sometimes ... by pulling pitchers early, 80 pitches to try to protect their arm, I don’t think that necessarily protects their arm because you are not pushing them to the limit and building a foundation underneath them. To develop that foundation takes time and you have to push the limit and then you need to rest. It’s the recovery [that's key to health].
If you can consistently push your pitch counts and then get rest behind it, that's how you build a foundation. Another reason I’ve been able to display durability in my career is because I thought I was built right . When I was 19, 21, 22, I was exposed to high pitch counts, but I also had the rest behind it to be able to it. I feel like that model has served me well.
MLB.com: The Mets are off to a good start and I know it’s early. How good are they?
Scherzer: It’s a good start. That all it means. It’s a really long season, so we have to continue to play great baseball a lot longer if we want to accomplish our goals.
MLB.com: What has been impressive so far?
Scherzer: How well we have played as a team—good pitching, timely hitting, good defense. We have a good bullpen. Everybody has had a hand in our [great start]. It’s not just one guy. It’s not just once facet of our game. I feel it’s the whole clubhouse having good contributions everywhere. That’s what it takes to win.
MLB.com: What is it like to play for Buck Showalter?
Scherzer: This has been a lot of fun, having Buck be on your side. He is relentlessly prepared. He’s locked in. He also has a good sense of humor, too. This is Jim Leyland 2.0, for me.
MLB.com: You have accomplished a lot over the years. What is the one thing you are most proud of?
Scherzer: Winning the World Series in 2019 with Washington. The best feeling I ever had. Everyone dreams to be in that position. Ever since you were a little kid, you dream of winning the World Series. To be on a team that goes out and does it, that’s just an absolute, lifelong dream to have that moment. I’m so happy to have that moment.
MLB.com: How much do you have left in the tank? What goals do you have? I know you want to win another World Series.
Scherzer: That’s it [about winning the World Series]. I have my blinders up and I just go forward. I don’t try to get caught up with any other accomplishments. I’m not here for [personal] results. For me, I focus on the process, what it takes to go out there and make my starts. The only goal I set is win the World Series. Trust me, that’s the best one and the only one you need.
MLB.com: Do you realize what you have accomplished?
Scherzer: I understand that. I don’t like to think about it in those terms. There will be a time I will take the blinders off and we can talk about that. But, to me, it’s more fun to keep the blinders up, ignore some of that stuff, have fun with it, if you need to. It’s about what I’m doing in my next start. What means more, what I do in five days or what I did last year? To me, it’s what happens in five days. That’s what keeps me motivated. That’s what keeps me wanting to compete. What’s going to happen next.
MLB.com: I’m going to mention some names. Tell me what comes to mind: Let’s start with Miguel Cabrera.
Scherzer: Ah, best right-handed hitter ever. His ability to do everything at the plate—to be able to hit for power to all fields, to be able to understand what a pitcher is going to do to you. He is able to drive in runs, get hits and more important is to be able to play through injuries. I don’t think people give Miggy enough credit for what he did for Detroit and for our clubhouse there.
He played through devastating injuries to stay on the field to try to help us win. People kind of overlook what it takes to man up and take the field. He did that. His drive to be great, not only when he had his Triple Crown season, he came back the next year and he was better. I never seen that before. That was really powerful to be a part of -- to watch the best hitter on earth get better. That goes to show you, there are no limits. It’s only in your head.
MLB.com: Ryan Zimmerman.
Scherzer: Mr. National. He was a teammate I played the most years with. Great teammate, great guy, a champion. I really enjoyed him.
MLB.com: Dusty Baker. He is close to winning his 2,000th victory as a manager.
Scherzer: Dusty was great. I loved his mind, his instincts. He has a great knowledge of the game, great history of the game. He played with so many different players. I really, really enjoyed picking his mind.
MLB.com: Mike Rizzo.
Scherzer: A great architect of designing a team from top to bottom and putting together a winner.
MLB.com: Bryce Harper.
Scherzer: Great power hitter. He understands what he does well. He can really do damage at the plate. (Bill Ladson - April 25, 2022)
When Max Scherzer signed with the Mets last winter, former Tigers catcher Gerald Laird had one thought about his former teammate: He’s going to change the whole Mets organization, just with his presence.
The Mets are indeed better with Scherzer. Major League Baseball is, too.
Stories about Max:
John Hester, Diamondbacks catcher: I think this might have been his first or second start in High A, but we played the San Jose Giants, and he went out and pitched seven innings, had a perfect game. And they pulled him because that was what you did for your huge prospect that had just shown up and had a pitch count. And he went berserk when our manager went out there to get him. They interviewed him after the game: “Hey Max, do you think you would have finished the perfect game?” And I think the answer was: “Abso-f***ing-lutely.”
Bryan Holaday, Tigers catcher: When Phil Nevin called me to let me know that I was getting called up, I was like, “Man, as long as I’m catching anybody but Max. That guy is just a psycho.”
Shawn Kelley, Nationals reliever: Our third year in Washington together, Derek Lilliquist was our pitching coach. Davey Martinez was the manager. Davey told Lilli, “Go out there and check on him.” Lilli looked at him and was like, “Are you f***ing crazy? I’m not going out there.” They had this conversation about who’s going to go out there and ask him how he’s doing. It was like the seventh inning, and he got in a little bit of a jam.
Gerald Laird, Tigers catcher: You can put this: Max was the sh**tiest golfer and then the best presser in golf. That means he would lose all his money the first 16 holes and then press all his f***ing money the last two holes and he’d look like Tiger Woods. The best.
Luke Carlin, Diamondbacks catcher: Doug Davis, a left-handed pitcher for us, had invited some guys that were living in Arizona to his golf outing for the foundation that he had. I’m not in Max’s group, but I walk up to the tee box where he is and he just straight big-leagues the sh*t out of me. Like, just mean mugs me. We’re all sitting here having drinks; he’s not drinking. He’s locked in like it’s Game 7 of the freaking World Series. I’m like, “What the hell is going on with Max?” His group told me: “Dude, he’s two strokes down. He’s pissed. Don’t talk to him.” I’m like, “It’s a celebrity golf tournament!”
Brayan Peña, Tigers catcher: He came to me and was like, “When I win the Cy Young, I’m going to give you a Rolex.” I was like, “Come on, man. Stop messing around with me.” And, man, he ended up winning the Cy Young and I became a free agent. In December, I got a FedEx to my door in Orlando. There was this beautiful box. I thought it was a joke from my wife or something. When I opened it: an engraved Rolex. (Dodd/Jenks-TheAthletic.com-June 27, 2022)
Sept. 2022: Scherzer chose to play for team USA in the 2023 WBC.
Jan. 30, 2023: Birthday celebrations just got a lot easier in the Scherzer household.
Mets pitcher Max Scherzer and his wife, Erica May-Scherzer, welcomed Nikki — the family’s fourth child — on Jan. 30, which also doubles as Erica’s birthday.