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Sports Then and Now



The J.R. Richard Story: From Unhittable to Homeless 2

Posted on October 19, 2009 by Blaine Spence

J.R. Richard was 107-71 with 1,493 strikeouts when his career was cut short by a stroke.

J.R. Richard was 107-71 with 1,493 strikeouts when his career was cut short by a stroke.

The amazing thing about J.R. Richard was that he could throw a baseball hard, really hard. One of Richard’s pitches was once clocked at 98 miles per hour. Oh, did I fail to mention that this particular pitch was his slider? His fastball was regularly gunned in the triple digits, and on more than one occasion reached 103 mph.

Born to parents Clayton and Lizzie back on March 7 in the year of our lord 1950, it didn’t take long for James Rodney Richard to figure out he liked sports. It also didn’t take long for him, and the surrounding communities, to realize he excelled at them.

Basketball and baseball were the two sports that quickly showcased Richard’s physical gifts.

As a pitcher, imagine not losing a single high school game for your career, and not giving up a single run in your senior year. How about hitting four consecutive jacks, and in the same game pitching your team to a 48-0 shellacking of your opponent?

His basketball prowess was such that Richard entertained offers of scholarships from nearly every elite college program in the country. He turned every one of them down flat.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
      January 29, 2022 | 4:43 pm
      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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