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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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      Though only 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, Al Bumbry was a four-year basketball player at Virginia State College (now University). The school restarted its baseball program during his career and Bumbry hit .578 during his senior season to earn notice from the Baltimore Orioles, who picked him in the 11th round of the MLB Draft.

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