As Cardinals rookies, Shelby Miller and Dick Hughes each delivered a dominant strikeout performance that stands out for its artistry and drama.
That’s where the similarities end.
On May 10, 2013, Miller nearly was perfect against the Rockies at St. Louis. He yielded a single to the game’s first batter, Eric Young, retired the next 27 in a row, struck out 13 and earned the win in the Cardinals’ 3-0 victory.
Forty-six years earlier, on May 30, 1967, Hughes was perfect for seven innings against the Reds at Cincinnati. Then a string of bad breaks and bizarre plays occurred. Hughes struck out 13 in eight innings but took the loss in the Reds’ 2-1 victory.
Hughes established the Cardinals’ single-game rookie strikeout record. Five years later, it was matched by Scipio Spinks. (Spinks struck out 13 Mets in the first game of a doubleheader on June 25, 1972, at New York’s Shea Stadium. He earned the win in a 7-1 Cardinals victory Boxscore.) Forty-one years later, Miller became the third Cardinals rookie to achieve the feat. Boxscore
Much has been expected of Miller, 22, since the right-hander was chosen by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft.
Few expected Hughes to be a rookie sensation. The right-hander spent nine seasons (1958-66) in the minor leagues. His vision was 20-75 in one eye; 20-300 in the other, according to The Sporting News.
In 1966, Hughes turned around his career by developing a slider and a no-windup delivery. He got his first call to the big leagues by the Cardinals in September 1966.
Hughes, 29, opened the 1967 season in the Cardinals bullpen. He joined the starting rotation in May, swapping roles with Al Jackson.
Five days after pitching a two-hit shutout in the Cardinals’ 5-0 victory over the Braves in Atlanta Boxscore, Hughes was paired against Reds ace Jim Maloney at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field.
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 35 minutes by rain. Unfazed, Hughes retired the first 18 batters in a row. Then play was halted another 55 minutes by rain.
Hughes retired the Reds in order in the seventh, keeping his bid for a perfect game intact. But the second delay had been damaging.
“My slider was not going where I wanted it to and, after the rain stopped the game (after the sixth), I began relying on my fastball.” Hughes said to the Associated Press.
Said Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst: “The delay in the game by rain took a little of the edge off Hughes.”
With the Cardinals ahead 1-0, Tony Perez led off the eighth for Cincinnati. Carrying a 16-game hitting streak, Perez swung at a 3-and-2 fastball and lofted a high fly to center. The ball hit off the wall at cozy Crosley for a 380-foot triple “that would have been an easy out in any other park,” The Sporting News reported.
With the perfect game bid ended, Hughes focused on trying to preserve the lead. He struck out Deron Johnson for the first out. Vada Pinson was the next batter.
Wrote The Sporting News: “Pinson tried to duck from a high pitch which he later confessed he never saw and, presto, he had a bloop, score-tying double to short left.”
Pinson’s fluke double plated Chico Ruiz, who had pinch-run for Perez, tying the score.
Hughes issued an intentional walk to Johnny Edwards, trying to set up a double play. But Leo Cardenas followed with a single, scoring Pinson and giving the Reds a 2-1 lead. Edwards advanced to third on the play but Cardenas was thrown out at second, trying to stretch the single into a double.
Maloney was due up next. Rather than lift him for a pinch-hitter and turn to a closer in the ninth, manager Dave Bristol opted to let Maloney bat. The pitcher ended the inning with a fly out.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, Maloney was tiring. Orlando Cepeda opened the ninth with a single. Tim McCarver followed with another single, sending Cepeda to third.
Bristol lifted Maloney and brought in Don Nottebart. A right-hander, Nottebart had taken the loss the night before when he yielded a run-scoring, 11th-inning double to the Cardinals’ Julian Javier. Boxscore
Now he would be facing Phil Gagliano, subbing for third baseman Mike Shannon, who was sidelined because of a viral infection.
Gagliano swung at Nottebart’s first pitch and grounded sharply to Cardenas at shortstop. Cepeda should have raced for home. Instead, he hesitated.
Cardenas fielded the grounder and flipped to second baseman Tommy Helms, forcing McCarver. Helms relayed a throw to first baseman Deron Johnson, completing the double play.
On Helms’ throw, Cepeda broke for home. Johnson spotted him and fired the ball to catcher Johnny Edwards, who tagged out Cepeda.
Triple play. Game over.
“Something, eh?” an astonished Bristol said to the Associated Press. “First time I ever threw my cap into the stands.
“I sent Nottebart in to pitch, hoping he would throw a low ball for a grounder. He sure did.” Boxscore
Hughes finished with a pitching line of 8 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk and 13 strikeouts. He struck out Helms three times and Perez, Cardenas and Maloney twice each. Hughes also held Pete Rose hitless, stopping Rose’s 25-game hit streak.
“If it hadn’t rained, we never would have got a hit off Hughes,” Chico Ruiz said. “Hughes was just great.”
Check out this recent interview with Dick Hughes by Corey Noles of The Daily Statesman.