Costas Narrates Richard’s Journey From Star Pitcher to Homeless On the Streets of Houston
September 9, 2010 – Former Houston Astros stand-out pitcher J.R. Richard is the subject of a new episode of MLB Network Remembers with Bob Costas, airing on Saturday, September 11. Richard, a phenom who was the first round draft pick of the Astros in 1969, was on the path to becoming one of the premier pitchers in Major League Baseball, throwing the occasional 100-mile per hour fastball, twice leading the National League in strikeouts and winning at least 18 games each season from 1976-1979. Narrated by Costas, the program looks back on Richard’s MLB career, which was abruptly cut short in 1980 after suffering a stroke at age 30 during a pregame workout.
Richard would recover from his stroke and return to pitch in the Minor Leagues by 1983, but medical complications from his stroke prohibited his ability and he would never again pitch in Major League Baseball. Richard’s 313 strikeouts in 1979 remains an Astros franchise record.
Throughout the next decade, a series of personal hardships would leave Richard homeless, living under a highway underpass in Houston. After connecting with a local pastor and church ministry, Richard became a minister and is now involved in helping the homeless in the Houston area.
“For a brief period of time, J.R. Richard was the most feared and dominant pitcher in the game,” said Costas. “The way his career ended, and the way his life nearly did, is among baseball’s most intriguing and tragic stories.”
Featured in interviews throughout the program are Richard himself and former teammates Enos Cabell, Bob Watson, Joe Morgan, Larry Dierker and Jimmy Wynn. Also included are former Astros general manager Tal Smith, who drafted Richard in 1969, former Astros public relations director and current general manager Ed Wade and longtime Houston journalists Kenny Hand and Bob Allen. MLB Network Remembers with Bob Costas will air on September 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Prior to the program, MLB Network will countdown the 50 most bizarre moments in MLB history at 6:00 p.m. ET. Some of baseball’s greats, including George Brett, David Cone, Moises Alou, Lou Piniella, Randy Johnson and Dusty Baker along with MLB Network’s Sean Casey, John Hart, Barry Larkin, Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds, discuss each event, from Reggie Jackson’s dugout brawl with Billy Martin in 1977, to Disco Demolition Night in 1979 and Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game in 2010.
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