JR Richard, a two-time National League strikeout champion with the Houston Astros, whose career was cut short in 1980 by a stroke, died Thursday at the age of 71, the team announced.
In 10 seasons with the Astros, Richard was 107-71 with a 3.15 ERA and 1,493 strikeouts, including 313 in 1979, which remained the team’s one-season record until he Gerrit cole he surpassed him in 2019. He is still tied for second in team history in career ERA, third in strikeouts, behind only Nolan Ryan and Roy Oswalt, and fifth in wins and shutouts (19).
“Today is a sad day for the Houston Astros as we mourn the loss of one of our franchise icons, JR Richard,” the team said in a statement. “JR will always be remembered as an intimidating figure on the mound and as one of the greatest pitchers in club history. He stood shoulder to shoulder with club icons Larry Dierker, Joe Niekro and Nolan Ryan, to form some of the best rotations. in club history “.
Astros Hall of Fame starting pitcher JR Richard, one of the greatest players to don an Astros uniform, has passed away. He was 71 years old. pic.twitter.com/ylqq2nPQMi
– Houston Astros (@astros) August 5, 2021
The 6-foot-8-inch pitcher, who opened the 1980 NL All-Star Game, was known as much for his 100 mph fastball as for his devastating breaking pitch. He won 20 games, the most of his career, in 1976, one of his three seasons with 18 or more wins. He led the National League with a 2.71 ERA in 1979, when he was 18-13 with a 3.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 292⅓ innings in 38 starts.
“He had the best repertoire I’ve ever seen,” Hall of Famer Joe Morgan once said, “and it still gives me goosebumps at the thought of what he might have become.”
Richard was playing catch during pregame drills inside the Astrodome when he suffered the stroke in July 1980.
Richard, the second pick in the 1969 MLB draft, was inducted into the inaugural Astros Hall of Fame in 2020.