J.R. Richard, Astros legend, dies at 71

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(HOUSTON) — J.R. Richard, a Houston Astros legend, has died at the age of 71, the team announced Thursday. 

Richard played ten years for the team and struck out 600 batters, but had his career cut short by a stroke in 1980. 

During his career, Richard had a 107-71 record with a 3.15 ERA. In 1979, he struck out 313 batters. That record stood until Gerrit Cole surpassed it in 2019. 

“Today is a sad day for the Houston Astros as we mourn the loss of one of our franchise icons, J.R. Richard,” the Astros said Thursday. “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. Sadly, his playing career was cut short by health issues, but his ten years in an Astros uniform stand out as a decade of excellence. We send our heartfelt condolences to J.R.’s wife, Lula, his family, friends and countless fans and admirers.”

On the franchise’s all-time list, Richards ranks third in ERA and strikeouts, fourth in complete games, and fifth in wins and shutouts. 

He was elected to the team’s inaugural Astros Hall of Fame in 2019.

“I’ve known J.R. for a long time,” said Enos Cabell, an Astros teammate, said in a statement. “In the Minor Leagues, I played against him and then we were teammates with the Astros for many years. He was one of the greatest pitchers we ever had and probably would have been in the Hall of Fame if his career was not cut short. On the mound, he was devastating and intimidating. Nobody wanted to face him. Guys on the other team would say that they were sick to avoid facing him. This is very sad news. He will be missed.”

In 1980, Richard was named the National League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star game. He suffered a stroke on July 30th.

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