Former Houston Astros pitcher J.R. Richard died at age 71, according to a statement from the team on Thursday.
“Today is a sad day for the Houston Astros as we mourn the loss of one of our franchise icons,” the Astros said. A member of the club’s Hall of Fame, Richard’s 10-year career with the Astros was cut short by a stroke in July 1980.
“J.R. will forever 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 a few of the best rotations in club history,” the team said. “Sadly, his playing career was cut short by health issues, but his 10 years in an Astros uniform stand out as a decade of excellence.”
In 1969, Richard was selected second overall by the Astros in the Major League Baseball Draft. Known for his 100-mph fastball, Richard had a career win-loss record of 107-71, and his 3.15 career ERA is tied for second on the Astros all-time list.
“I have great memories of J.R. He was one of the greatest Astros ever. When he was pitching, we knew that we were going to get a ‘W.’ I didn’t get too many balls hit to me in the outfield when he pitched because he was so dominating. He was a great friend and a great teammate,” said former teammate Jose Cruz.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to J.R.’s wife, Lula, his family, friends and countless fans and admirers,” the Astros’ statement said.
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