Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dick Hughes (#253)

Today I’m featuring the last of the 1967 Topps All-Rookie selections. Normally, 10 players were selected (including 1 left and 1 right handed pitcher). In the 1968 set, Topps not only left the cool trophy off 3 of the cards, but they decided that Dick Hughes would share the right-handed pitcher slot with Tom Seaver. (Imagine!)

Hughes was signed by the Cardinals in 1958, but was a late-bloomer, pitching 9 seasons in the minors before reaching the majors in September 1966 at age 28.

He had a phenomenal rookie season for the World Champion Cardinals in 1967, compiling a 16-6 record in 37 games (including 27 starts), while leading the staff in wins and innings pitched. (Bob Gibson missed a month of the season with a broken leg.) Dick finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting to Seaver.

Hughes spent most of the 1968 season in the bullpen, starting just 5 of his 25 games, and finishing at 2-2 in only 63 innings of work. What a difference a year makes! In the 1967 World Series, Dick started 2 games. In ’68, he pitched 1/3 of an inning in relief against the Tigers.

I’m guessing he had arm troubles, because he spent the 1969 season playing in the single-A Florida State League, then was out of baseball at the ripe old age of 31.