Some of the Top Cards of 1976

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1976 Topps #625 - J.R. Richard

  • J.R. Richard had an abbreviated career, but he was one of the most feared pitchers of the mid to late 1970s. 
  • Richard never lost a high school game and was the second player taken in the 1969 draft by the Houston Astros. J.R. pitched in the minors from 1969-1971 and was called up to the Astros in September 1971. Richard was was 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA in four starts for Houston in 1971.
  • For the next three seasons Richard split time between the minors and the Astros. In 1972 J.R. was 1-0 with a 13.50 in four games for the Astros. Richard was 6-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 1973 and  was 2-3 with a 4.18 ERA in 1974.
  • Richard joined the Houston rotation in 1975. He led the NL in walks and wild pitches and went 12-10 with a 4.39 ERA in 1975.
  • J.R. had his only 20-win season in 1976. He had a 20-15 record with a 2.75 ERA in 1976. Richard followed his 1976 season with a good year in 1977 (18-12, 2.97 ERA).
  • Richard led the NL with 303 strikeouts, 16 wild pitches, and 141 walks in 1978. He had a record of 18-11 with a 3.11 ERA and finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting. J.R. Richard of the Astros: He Specializes in Smoke - December 1978 Baseball Digest.
  • J.R. led the NL in ERA (2.75), strikeouts (313), and wild pitches (19), had an 18-13 record, and was third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 1979.
  • Richard started the 1980 All Star Game for the National League. J.R. Richard of Astros Long Overdue for National Recognition - June 1980 Baseball Digest. He pitched two scoreless innings in the game. J.R. was 10-4 with a 1.90 ERA when he suffered a stroke during pre-game warmups on July 30. 
  • Richard tried to come back in 1981 and was placed on Houston's 40-man roster in September, but manager Bill Virdon didn't put him in any games. Richard was also recalled in September 1982 but didn't get in any games.
  • J.R. pitched in the minors in 1982 and in 1983 but although he had recovered from the stroke, the risk of future problems was too great for him to continue pitching. Richard was released by the Astros in 1984.
  • After his playing career J.R. went into some business ventures in his native Louisiana, but he lost close to a million dollars in a bad oil venture and in a divorce settlement. He married and divorced again, this time losing his home near Houston and most of the rest of his money.
  • In 1994 Richard was homeless and destitute in Houston. He started collecting his pension in 1995, started working for an asphalt company, and became a minister.
  • Resurrection: The J.R. Richard Story is a movie about Richard made in 2005.
  • Here is a tribute to Richard on Astros Daily.
  • Here is a 2009 article about J.R..
  • Liked to face: Barry Bonnell (.000 in 15 AB); Ken Reitz (.063 in 32 AB); Steve Yeager (.083 in 48 AB)
  • Hated to face: Ed Ott (.476 in 21 AB); Ralph Garr (.429 in 21 AB); Al Oliver (.417 in 24 AB)

1 comment:

  1. I'm the same age as you and fondly remember walking home after school in rural Wisconsin and stopping at the local 5 & dime to get as many packs of Topps as I could with whatever change I could scrounge up. I'd shove as much of that rigid bubblegum as possible in my mouth and sort out my cards and negotiate trades with my brother. I don't think kids do that anymore, do they?

    Cue: Gary Wright's 'Dream Weaver'