Card of the Moment #46
September 5th, 2010 by slangon

I’ve made mention in the past about one of the many sub-genre of cards that I enjoy are what I call “nerd cards”. Obviously, these are cards that depict players who fit the stereotype of a nerd. Gawky. Big nerd glasses. Usually pretty skinny and un-athletic looking. I’m guessing my liking of them has to do with having grown up being a skinny, un-athletic, glasses wearing nerd myself.

The majority of these nerd cards tend to fall into the era of the 60’s for some reason. I’m sure you don’t see them so often now due to the fact that contact lens technology has advanced to a degree where the biggest badge of nerd-dom, the giant glasses, are unnecessary. Also, now that every kid grows up on a diet of steroid and hormone laced beef products, the skinny and gawky parts are irrelevant. During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s I can think of a few examples of nerd cards, too, but they just don’t seem to be as rampant as during the 60’s. Yessir, the 1960’s were the Golden Age of Nerd Cards.

Today’s Card of the Moment is actually a pair of Cards. And by “Cards” i mean they are both 2.5″ x 3.5″ pieces of cardboard depicting a baseball player on the front with a summary of their career on the back, and they are both members of the St. Louis National League Baseball Squad. Oh, yeah, and they’re both Nerd Cards.

1969 Topps #39 Dick Hughes

1969 Topps #232 Dave Ricketts

It’s an All-Nerd Battery. Both of these guys had relatively short-lived careers, Dick more-so than Dave.

Dave managed to last 6 seasons in the Majors, spending all but 1 in St. Louis. His final year, 1970, was spent on the Pirates, who released him at the end of that year, resigned him as a free agent in the middle of the ’71 season and then re-released him 3 week later. Most of his career was spent as a back-up to Tim McCarver, and his career numbers are a testament to that. He hit .249 with 20 RBIs and one lone homer, which coincidentally came against Pirates pitcher Bob Veale. Maybe thats why the Pirates agreed to take him. They based all their scouting reports on that one game.

Dick Hughes only lasted 3 short years in the Major Leagues, all with the Cardinals. He was a September call-up in 1966, going a very respectable 2-1 with an outstanding 1.71 ERA and 20 K’s in 21 innings of work. His final game that year was a complete game shutout against the Cubbies. The next season Dick really built off of that finish. He went 16-6 with a 2.67 ERA to go along with his 161 strikeouts. He started 2 games of the World Series that year, going 0-1. He also came in 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting. Sadly for Dick, he only managed to throw 63.2 innings in 1968, which was his final year in the majors. He still ended his career on a winning note, sporting a lifetime 20-9 record and a 2.79 ERA.

It’s a bit of a shame that the Topps cartoon artist chose not to incorporate Dicks nerdiness into his comic. It’s also a bit of a shame that Dick did not in fact win the Rookie of the Year in 1967. That honor went to my man Tom Seaver. Come on, Topps. You couldn’t of fact checked that? I mean, I can see accidentally getting some small statistical fact wrong, or misspelling a word, but you’d think that someone who works at a company that manufactures baseball cards might be aware of something like who the winner of the National League Rookie of the Year is.

I must admit though when you look at Tom and Dick’s numbers from 1967, it was a lot closer than you would thing a comparison of those two would be. They both won 16 games that season, but Tom lost 13 to Dicks 6. Tom had a slightly higher ERA at 2.76. Strikeouts were close, with Seaver fanning 170 and Dick 161. Dick also managed to save 3 games that year as well. I guess it goes to show that guys who start off hot don’t always make a lasting impression.

I kind of really like the back of Dave Ricketts card. There’s no mention of his 1966 season in Tulsa and trying to make him out to be a good batsman. I don’t remember ever seeing a card where they actually mention that someone “sets a good target”. That seems like scraping the bottom of the barrel to me. They might’ve been better off putting his fielding statistics back there rather than his batting stats. It’s just all about him being a back-up catcher. They even specifically mention that he’s a back up to McCarver. I’d be a little bummed out of that was my baseball card. They might as well have just put McCarver’s picture on front with Dave riding the pine in the background.

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