Former Houston Astros all star pitcher J.R. Richard passed away at 71 years old. He was was one of the great righty power pitchers of his era.
During a stretch between 1978 – 1980 there’s an argument to be made that he was the most dominant pitcher in Major League Baseball.
He led the league in strike outs in 1978 and 1979 and earned the start for the National League in the 1980 Major League Baseball All Start Game.
Richard spent his entire 10 year career with Houston finishing with a 107-71 record with a 3.15 career ERA and 1,473 strikeouts, before a stroke took him out.
He was one of the first pitchers who routinely clocked 100 mph with his heater, thus making his wicked slider even more devastating
However, fate would deal Richard a crippling blow.
Richard had been complaining about issues with the left side of his neck, but the Astros organization was reluctant to give him adequate medical attention. It has been chronicled that the organization didn’t believe his health issues were that severe so he tried to work through them.
During a workout in the Astrodome, Richard collapsed from a stroke and he would never pitch in the league again. Many who questioned the validity of his injury ultimately were forced to recant their positions throughout local media and it remains a sore subject among some Astros fans of that generation.
Richardson once described the medical mishap to MLBbro Managing Editor JR Gamble as “straight racism” and he remained bitter towards the organization for many years before reconciling.
Despite being a member of the Astros Hall of Fame, the organization has never retired Richard’s #50 jersey which sticks in the craw of many Generation X and Baby Boomer fans fans who remember watching his exploits live when he was at the peak of his career.