September 02, 2004
Press interviews JR Richard

The Houston Press has a fascinating interview with former Astros great JR Richard. If what he says is true here, he really got screwed by his former team:

DH: How did the Houston Astros organization help you during your recovery?

JR: I don't see anything they've done at all to help me recover.

DH: They didn't check in on you at all?

JR: Yeah, to see if I could pitch again. That was the checking they did.

DH: They weren't interested in J.R. Richard the person?

JR: No, they were not. I think it was pretty self-evident how they were interested in me. If they had been interested in me and I was such a valuable asset to the ball club, why wasn't I checked earlier? Why wasn't I checked all those times I was complaining?


DH: What did Nolan Ryan or other Astros do to help during your recovery?

JR: Nothing. Not a thing.


DH: In the winter of 1994 you were broke, homeless and living under a Houston freeway bridge. Was there no one you could turn to?

JR: There may have been, but there wasn't anyone I knew of.

DH: What about the Astros?

JR: The Astros? As a matter of fact, the Astros stole $300,000 from me.

DH: How'd they do that?

JR: My deferred compensation. I needed some money, so I went there [to the Astros] and got some money. And, they took $300,000 because I got the money.

DH: So they penalized you for taking the money early?

JR: Right, which is some BS. I'll tell you about the Astros. I went to them to see if I could do some public relations for them. They said, "Okay, we'll get back to you," and time passed and passed and passed. Nothing. Then, I see they hired Nolan Ryan. Now what does that tell you? They retired jerseys for Mike Scott and Larry Dierker. I got a better record than both those guys. What does that tell you?

I'd love to know what Tal Smith, Nolan Ryan, and some of Richard's former teammates would say to this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 02, 2004 to Baseball | TrackBack

If what he is saying is true, then I can't blame J.R. at all for being bitter about the Astros organization. Part of the problem with what he is talking about is that it is common for pitchers to have sore arms and for the teams to only be concerned about the ability to play (as evidenced in "Ball Four"). On the other hand, having a former player such as him for PR purposes would be a good thing for the team, especially since he was one of the most underrated pitchers I've ever seen. The part about retiring numbers is not about greatness, but about politics. A similar example would be the New York Islanders waiting for years to retire Brian Trottier's jersey, even though he had a lot to do with the team winning four Stanley Cups in the 1980s. There's no question in my mind that J.R. deserves the honor, since he was such a dominant pitcher.

Posted by: William Hughes on September 2, 2004 7:37 AM


Hard to believe. No, really. I mean that. Sincerely.

Posted by: Sandra Puente on September 2, 2004 10:49 AM

JR's got a mix of paranoia and just enough fuel that the Astros provided over the years to make it take on a life of its own.The worst of it, for me, was the way they dealt with JR in the leadup to his stroke - basically suggesting he was faking the fatigue he had complained of before the actual stroke (think Steve Patterson vs Hakeem Olajuwon if you will).

Athletes and organizations always have a falling out after the player is cut loose and JR never seemed to see his place in the community of former Astros. Yes, he's a legend to those of us old enough to remember his mastery of the 100+ MPH fastball. But Nolan Ryan's status goes beyond his pitching prowess. So the envy he seems to have is more than a little misdirected.

Another note ... this may be the world's worst interview EVER:

  • "Some people take steroids. Moises Alou urinates on his hands. What's the difference?"
  • "On November 21, 1980 -- four months after you'd gone down with a stroke -- CBS aired the "Who shot J.R.?" episode of Dallas, which at the time was the most-watched TV show in history. Did that get anybody in Texas, or elsewhere -- or even in the Astros organization -- asking the question, Who's taking care of the other J.R.?"
  • WTF!?!?!?!?!

  • "After the stroke, things went from bad to worse for you. An oil-deal scam lost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. You lost your agent, your attorney, two wives and your home. Did it all happen at once, or was there one event that took everything?"
  • Yes, he lost two wives all "at once" ... brilliant, just freakin' brilliant.

  • "Homelessness is certainly a problem in this country. When you were homeless, George W. Bush served as govenor of Texas [1994-2000]. Are there any politicians who you would recommend get under that bridge and know what it's like?"
  • George Bush was inaugurated in 1995. JR was homeless during the Ann Richards administration.

    That the interviewer is having a book of his "signature sports interviews" published next year is a condemntation of sportswriting.

    Posted by: Greg Wythe on September 2, 2004 11:18 AM

    W O W !!! I came to this site to try to find some current information on my former classmate. J R. & I were in the same classes at Grambling State Universty Lab School,then known as Grambling College lab school. J. R. transferred to Lincoln High only 5 miles away for high school. To this day I do not know why. The last time I saw him was on Trinity Broadcasting Network, with a beautiful wife that appeared to, forever be by his side.
    I am sorry for the misfortunes and bad business deals, but I am thankful that he is alive. J. R. if you read this, the most important thing in life is LIFE. There is life after baseball, there is life after this physical excistance is over. I am talking aout Eternal Life. We all must have a relationship with the Saviour, Jesus Christ. J. R. I am praying for you and if no one loves you but the Lord and Mt. Olive, that's all you need. God Bless JR, and come home sometime, Nolan

    Posted by: Nolan J. Hymon on September 9, 2004 10:12 PM

    Life ain't Fair and nothing is Promised to us. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL OF MY ACTIONS...PERIOD! I could be wrong, but I'll bet there's something in this story that we're not hearing. When you think you have it bad, there's always someone out there that has it worse! How about the Man that kept complaining that He had no shoes...Until he met the Man that had no Feet! Now in JR's case, how about Dave Draveky? OUT!

    Posted by: L. David Wrede on July 10, 2005 9:41 AM

    I just saw your story on the 700 Club. J.R., you and I know that today could be your last. I had a stroke,among other injuries, when a truck hit me when I was riding my motorcycle one morning on the way to work. I didn't know if I would be able to work or drive or even live by myself. I had that Yamaha V-Max motorcycle, an IROC Z, a twin turbo 455 Trans Am, and a Porsche 928. When I was in the hospital, I didn't care if they were all gone when I got out. When you almost lose your life it puts things in a different perspective. Forget the Astros and others who persecute you. Life is short. Live every day in the joy of the Lord!

    Posted by: Eric L. Fuller on August 26, 2005 3:07 PM

    Who was J.R. Richard's lawyer back then? In today's day and age, he could have filed a lawsuit that could darn well bring a pro franchise like the Astros to its knees. His case would not have been frivolous either. I remember how poorly he was mishandled. I've been watching baseball since 1976. I speculate he would have posted numbers similar to Randy Johnson over his career, if not better.

    BTW, the Astros paid a smaller price for their neglect. I bet they would have coveted him for the playoffs later that year, or even in 86 for that matter.

    Posted by: Michael D. Cole on April 1, 2006 8:17 PM