Richard Hubbard served as principal of St. Francis High School for 30 years, from 1962 to ’92, but how many of his students knew he briefly played professional baseball?
Hubbard was born and raised in Austin, Minnesota, where he graduated from high school in 1949. That August, he signed with the Class C Duluth Dukes1 as a backup third baseman, upon the recommendation of Austin recreational director Harry Strong, who had managed the Dukes in 1934 and ’35. (The Dukes were affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, though nobody from the 1949 team ever made it to the majors.) Hubbard played 12 games with the Dukes, hitting .128 (5-for-39), and committing seven errors. Not great, but hey, his name will forever be etched in the annals of professional baseball.
The summer of 1950, Hubbard played with the townball (amateur) Blooming Prairie Blossoms.3
Sidenote: Hubbard’s hometown Austin Packers—a perennial townball powerhouse—fielded a particularly strong lineup in 1950, featuring Purdue University star Bill “Moose” Skowron, who went on to win four World Series rings with the Yankees and another with the Dodgers, and Watertown, MN-raised Harry Elliott, who later played with the St. Louis Cardinals. 4
Hubbard enlisted in the Air Force in October 1950, and was stationed at Travis Air Force Base in California. After receiving his honorable discharge in October 1954, he enrolled at Winona State, where he was the starting third baseman on the Warriors baseball team all four years.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Winona in 1958, he earned his master’s from Colorado State in 1961. He then taught high school social studies in LeRoy, Minnesota,7 where he also coached boys baseball and basketball.
He was hired as principal of St. Francis High School in 1962, and served in that capacity for 30 years, retiring in 1992. During Hubbard’s tenure, SFHS grew from 498 students in grades 7-12 to 1,150 students in grades 9-12. (The new high school opened in 1975.)
Hubbard passed away on May 10, 2004 and was laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.8 His four children established the Richard Hubbard Foundation, which each year awards a St. Francis boy and girl student-athlete a scholarship for outstanding citizenship, participation, leadership, and academic achievement.
In the April 17, 1957 issue of The Winonan—the Winona State student newspaper—Hubbard was asked what an ideal teacher should be, to which he responded, “One who knows and likes his students and treats them impartially; is helpful and understanding; has a sense of humor and takes an active part in athletic affairs.”
- 1949 Duluth Dukes program.
- Duluth News Tribune, August 14, 1949
- There are reportedly mentions of Hubbard playing with Blooming Prairie in Winona newspapers that year, but I have not yet looked those up.
- Despite the awesome lineup, the Austin Packers had to settle for runners-up at State in both 1950 and ’51. They did take the crown in 1949 and ’53.
- From the April 17, 1957 Winonan student newspaper.
- From the March 31, 1958 Winonan student newspaper.
- Bob Mahoney, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Browns, graduated from LeRoy in 1928.