The first thing I noticed when I got Dick Hughes baseball card in 1969 was that he wore glasses. You just don’t see many ballplayers wearing glasses then or now. Doesn’t he look in the card a little like Stork in Animal House?
Dick Hughes had a long struggled finding his way to the major leagues- had one brilliant season, was injured the next year and that was the end of his career. Dick Hughes was 6’3″ 195 he threw and hit right handed. Hughes was born and raised in Arkansas and went to the University of Arkansas on a baseball scholarship. He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals after his sophomore season in 1958.
The road to the major leagues was a long one- due to control problems it wasn’t until the age of 28 that he finally made it to the major leagues in September of 1966. He started two games in September, pitching a total of six games and went 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA.
1967 would be Dick Hughes season. He made the team out of spring training and pitched in relief in April. In early May he replaced Al Jackson in the rotation, pitched a 2 hit shutout and didn’t look back. The St. Louis Cardinals in 1967 would win the World Series and Dick Hughes went 16-6 on the season- the most wins on the pitching staff and a 2.67 ERA. He finally seemed to have conquered his wildness- walking only 48 in 222.1 innings pitched- and he led the league in WHIP with .094. He would finish second to Tom Seaver in the Rookie of the Year voting, He also finished 17th in the MVP voting. In the World Series he started two games against the Red Sox, he pitched 9 innings total with a 5.00 ERA. The Cardinals lost both of his starts but did win the World Series in 7 games due to Bob Gibson’s heroics.
In his last outing of spring training in 1968 he felt his shoulder ache. He took a cortisone shot and kept pitching. What he had was a torn rotator cuff- and in 1968 there was nothing to do for that- no surgery. Today you don’t hear of this injury that much- stretching seems to have prevented the injury, we do of course hear the dreaded Tommy John Surgery- on the elbow. Dick Hughes pitched in 25 games that season only starting 5 games and going 2-2 with a 3.53 ERA.
The 1969 Dick Hughes baseball card came out but he didn’t pitch that season or ever again. Hughes would be a pitching coach and scout in the St. Louis system for a couple of years before returning home and becoming a farmer. In the pieces I read about him he seemed to have no bitterness at all over his brief career and seemed very thankful of the opportunity he did have. For his brief career 20 -9 record with a 2.79 ERA. Dick Hughes is now eighty years old.