Happenings Sports Uncategorized

World Series Club Will Host Former Astros All-Star Pitcher JR Richard

JR Richard. Courtesy photo

Former pitching great JR Richard will share the story of his rise to All-Star status, fall into homelessness, and how he turned his life around at The World Series Club’s meeting on Dec. 13, at the VFW in West Hartford.

By Ronni Newton

Former Houston Astro JR Richard was at the top of  his game in 1980, taking the mound as the starting pitcher for the National League in the MLB All-Star game.

Several weeks later Richard had a stroke, and although he recovered enough to attempt a comeback in baseball, he never regained his dominance and his life spiraled downward. In 1994, after two divorces and financial problems, he was homeless, living beneath a bridge at Beachnut Street and Highway 59 in Houston less than 10 miles from the AstroDome where he had once been a star.

“I’m alive and well, and baseball is alive and well,” Richard, 67, said Tuesday in a phone interview from his Houston home. He said his faith in God is what turned his life around, and the realization that you are “born with nothing and take nothing with you.”

Richard will share the story of how he turned his life around at the World Series Club of Hartford County’s meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 13, from 6-9 p.m. at the VFW at 83 South St. in West Hartford. The event is open to all ages, and members range in age from 8-86, World Series Club President Tim Brennan said.

A 6-foot-eight right-hander, with a fastball clocked at over 100 mph, Richard was an intimidating presence on the mound. In his 10 years with the MLB, all of them spent with the Houston Astros, the fireballer struck out 1,493 batters. He pitched 76 complete games, 19 of which were shutouts.

After a dominating performance on the mound in the All-Star game, Richard felt weak in his next two starts. Doctors found a blockage, but didn’t think it was serious. On July 30, 1980, he collapsed at the AstroDome from a stroke caused by a blood clot in his neck.

Thirty-five years after the stroke that changed his life, Richard is retired – by choice this time. “I’m doing as much fishing as I possibly can,” he said.

He still travels to speak with groups and at baseball camps, participates in prison ministry and helps the homeless, and teaches some pitching to kids. His story has been chronicled in his 2015 book “Still Throwing Heat: Strikeouts, the Streets, and a Second Chance,” which he wrote with the assistance of sportswriter Lew Freedman.

His message is one of positivity. “Everything you have is already inside you,” he said. “Do what’s right and right will come to you.”

So many people do enough to get by, Richard said. “Not the best they can do.”

“It’s inspiring to see kids willing to learn. That’s gratifying itself,” Richard said.

“A story like JR Richard’s is the reason The World Series Club has existed for 91 years,” said Brennan. “From his dominance as a pitcher, to a misdiagnosis, suffering a stroke, becoming homeless, and turning it all around – this will be a very special evening at The World Series Club.”

Richard said he is really looking forward to his first visit to West Hartford. “From everything I’ve heard it’s very nice – other than the cold weather.”

Richard is hoping that those who come to meet him Wednesday will leave with a smile. “I’m so glad to be able to give of myself, to make someone’s day. It’s all about them.”

Tickets to the World Series Club event can be purchased online. All tickets include a buffet dinner, meet and greet, autographs, and an opportunity for questions and answers. Tickets for those 18 and under are just $5.

More information about Richard’s story can be found in this YouTube video of an ESPN interview.

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author


We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Translate »