So sad to report that one of the most intimidating pitchers I ever saw, JR. Richards, former Houston Astro, died at age 71. For those Phillies phans, too young to have seen the 1980 World Series champions but suspect they know all there is to know about that team...Schmidt's amazing year, Carlton's dominance, Bystrom's September, Tugs late season brilliance...one thing that is almost never mentioned but should be, especially today.
That Phillie team was good, and got way good in September and did beat the Houston Astros in a heart throbbing 5 game playoff series, all true. But it is worth recalling that Houston played that series without 2 of its arguably 4 best players...outfielder Caesar Cedeno and pitcher JR Richard. That would be just about the equivalence of that Phillie team playing without outfielder Bake McBride and Carlton. Oh, Carlton was a better than Richards, but they certainly were mentioned in the same hush hush tones in those days. Richards was that good, but suffered a stroke in July and never played again. Cedeno injured his leg late in the season and missed the playoffs.
Might that Phillie team still have beaten the Astros? Perhaps. But the thought of facing Richards and Ryan twice and Niekro once in a 5 game series was a terrifying thought.
RIP JR Richards