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Remembering J.R. Richard

August 5, 2021

In remembering the superb pitcher, J.R. Richard, who died today at age 71 and had suffered a horrible stroke years back, that for at least a veritable second shut up the doubting media, I choose a positive story relayed to me in 1988 by then aspiring manager, Dusty Baker.

Eleven years earlier, on the last day of that ’77 season, Dusty still needed one home run to join teammates Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Reggie Smith with 30 or more home runs, making that eventual baseball runner up team, the first to have 4 such homer hitters.

As Mr. Baker tells the story, he was glad that his manager Lasorda had confidence in him to do so but worried that his proclamation he would do so (hit #30), would give J.R. Richard, already a superb pitcher, more incentive.

Richard did yield the homer #30 to Dusty and also struck out 300 or more batters the next two seasons.

Sadly his career was cut short by a stroke he suffered in 1980. The media speculation criticizing J.R. without knowing the facts is a sad reminder of the event and a portent of even worse such media “speculation” that permeates today’s airwaves and print outlets.

On a positive note, it is the tremendous respect Baker had for one of his peers/opponents, J.R. Richard that resonated then and to this day.

Go easy, throw hard, J.R. Richard.

 

At his best, J.R. Richard, pictured and headed above, was one of the best pitchers in the last 50 or so years. 

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