Thursday, February 4, 2016

1973 Topps J.R. Richard

Houston Astros CTNW Favorites #3

J.R. Richard is another tragic story of what might have been. He was the first round draft pick of the Astros in 1969. But it wasn't until 1975 that he broke through. Although he was wild, leading the league in both walks and wild pitches, he managed a 12-10 record and 176 strikeouts. The following year he would win 20 games, lower his ERA to 275 and strikeout 214.  He won 18 games in each of the next three seasons, leading the league in strikeouts in 1978 and 1979. Ha had the lowest ERA in 1979.

With the addition of Nolan Ryan in 1980 the future never looked brighter. On July 30, 1980 James Rodney Richard had a stroke during warm-ups before a game in Philadelphia. Less than 2 weeks after his first All Star game, Richard's career was over. He played minor league ball for the Astros in 1982 and '83 but he was clearly not the same pitcher. He was ultimately released by the Astros just before the 1984 season.

This 1973 Topps card is a missing link in Richard's collection. After sharing a "Rookie Stars" card with Bill Greif and Ray Busse in 1972, his next Topps card would be in 1974. Not that I can blame Topps, J.R. spent most of 1972 pitching for the Oklahoma City 89ers.

1 comment:

  1. One of the hardest throwers, and an absolute giant of a man. He's an incredibly nice person to meet.