Yes, He Really Plays Baseball

Dave Ricketts, St. Louis Cardinals, Topps Baseball Cards 1968 & 1969

It is an unfair characterization to say Dave Ricketts could have easily been mistaken for a high school biology teacher rather than a major league catcher. Players who wore eyeglasses in the 1960’s were still very much a rare breed. When I was a kid, every time I looked at these two baseball cards, I thought that Dave Ricketts never really got to play, but just posed for the card.

Ricketts did play sporadically, appearing in 130 total games for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1963-1969 and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1970 and ended up with a .249 career batting average and one home run.

After his playing career ended, Ricketts became a fixture in the Cardinals organization mostly as the bullpen coach and minor league manager. Ricketts by all accounts was an excellent coach and had a large influence upon other players.  Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about Ricketts after he passed away:

“I’m here because of him,” Yadier Molina said. “He made me into a catcher. I wasn’t a catcher when I got here. I learned a lot from him. He was like my dad, there for me since I was 17. He meant so much to me.”

“I’ve never seen a coach who has worked harder for whatever team he’s involved with than Dave Ricketts. Ever,” former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Steve Blass said. “Totally dedicated. … He had a zest for life that was part of his personal life, and, thank goodness, we are better because it spilled over into his professional life.”

“Sometimes the word ‘great’ gets overused, and it’s a shame,” manager Tony La Russa said. “There have been some truly great Cardinals who have come through the organization, but I don’t know anyone greater or more beloved than Dave Ricketts.”

Dave Ricketts died in St. Louis at the age of 73 on July 13, 2008 of renal cancer.

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