Card of the Moment #56
November 20th, 2010 by slangon

1959 Topps #373 Herb Plews

Today’s Card of the Moment is a 1959 Topps card of Washington infielder Herb Plews. Of course depending on what time of the year it was, this was not a card of Washington infielder Herb Plews but Boston infielder Herb Plews, as he was traded to the Red Sox along with Dick Hyde in exchange for Billy Consolo and Murray Wall on June 11 of 1959. A few days later, Boston found out that Dick Hyde had a sore arm, so he was shipped back to washington and Murray Wall was sent back to Boston. Herb, on the other hand remained in Boston for the rest of 1959, which it turned out, was the rest of his career in the Majors.

Judging from the number of games he played in and the number of at-bats he had though, I would have to assume that he was mostly a back-up infielder. This theory is further strengthened by the fact that the Topps copy writer spent the entire biographical write-up talking about his defense. Considering all of this though, Herb was an okay player offensively as well, posting averages of .270, .271 and .258 during his 3 years in Washington up to the release of this card. I’d have to say that a .265 average over 3 seasons is pretty good for a guy who’s obviously in there for his glove.

At this point in the post, I can almost hear you asking why is a card from the 1959 set of a mediocre back-up infielder from a team that finished last every year that the player in question was on that team has been vaulted to the hallowed status of Card of the Moment. Glad you asked.

This is a very winding road back to the Herb Plews card, so hang on to your seats. In case you don’t know, I’m a pretty rabid Mets fan. Probably my main goal as a collector is to try and get every Mets team set from every Topps flagship set from 1962 to present. The first steps towards that goal involved tracking down the checklists of all the Mets from all the Topps sets. As I was perusing the various checklists, I was immediately struck by the list for the 1963 set.

Not only did the Mets have a player named Choo-Choo Coleman, they had a player named Pumpsie Green. That year there were cards of not one but two guys with awesome names. From that moment on, I was in love with both Pumpsie Green and Choo-Choo Coleman, despite not really knowing doodley squat about their careers as ball players. Like most players that I take an interest in for rather trivial reasons, I went on to learn more about both players through reading the backs of their cards and doing research on the interweb.

It was through those means that I learned that Pumpsie Green was actually the first black player to play for the Boston Red Sox. I also learned, quite surprisingly, that the Red Sox were the last Major League team to integrate and they did it only a few years before Pumpsie played for the Mets, in 1959. Somehow, knowing that Pumpsie broke the Red Sox color barrier just deepened my esteem for him.

Today, while researching Herb Plews I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Herb Plews also played a role in that milestone. You see, when Pumpsie was called up to the Sox midway through the 1959 season, the team naturally had to make room on the roster for him. Well who do you think was sent down to the minors so that the Boston fans could enjoy the same integrated brand of baseball that every other team in the Majors had been enjoying for years?

If you guessed the smiling fellow pictured on the card at the top of this post you are correct. Herb Plews was sent back to the AA Minneapolis Millers to make room on the Red Sox roster for Green. I sort of wonder what Mr. Plews reaction to that was. I would think that depending on his views toward civil rights and race relations he would’ve either been livid that his position on the team was usurped by some dang Negro, or he would have been proud to have made a small sacrifice for the advancement of an entire race. Somehow, looking at his picture on the front of this card I find it hard to believe the former.

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