Richard signed with the Astro organization shortly after he graduated in 1969 from tiny Lincoln High School of Ruston, La., where he had a 0.00 ERA his senior year and hit four consecutive homers for 10 RBIs in a—brace yourself—48-0 triumph. A three-sport star in the town that gave Bert Jones to the NFL, Richard sorted through no fewer than 200 basketball scholarship offers before he decided that baseball would be the wisest course to take.
"There were other guys in my high school with as much ability as I had," Richard says, "but instead of working at a job, they wanted to drink wine on Saturday nights. They thought that was the in thing to do, and consequently our lives went in different directions. For some people, it takes that to make a world. It doesn't for me."
" Richard's gotten tougher over the years because he's kept working at what he does," says Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner. "A lot of players get to this level and think it's over."
"I know I'm getting better," Richard says. "I'm always learning more about the game, so it's just a matter of time before I get the most out of me."
The most out of 6'8�", 237-pound James Rodney Richard should be something to see.