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Bobby Richardson
Second baseman
Born: August 19, 1935 (1935-08-19) (age 74)
Sumter, South Carolina
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
August 5, 1955 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 1966 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
Batting average     .266
Hits     1,432
Runs scored     643
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Robert Clinton "Bobby" Richardson (born August 19, 1935, in Sumter, South Carolina) is a former second baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Yankees from 1955 through 1966. Batting and throwing right-handed, he was a superb defensive infielder, as well as something of a clutch hitter, who played no small role in the Yankee baseball dynasty of his day.

Contents

Biography

Richardson debuted on August 5, 1955. He racked up 1,432 hits in his career, with a lifetime batting average of .266, 34 home runs and 390 RBIs. He won five Gold Gloves at second base, while forming a top double play combination with shortstop (and roommate) Tony Kubek. With the light-hitting but superb-fielding Yankee third baseman Clete Boyer, Richardson and Kubek gave the Yankees arguably the best defensive infield in baseball. His most famous defensive play came at the end of the 1962 World Series, mentioned below, when Richardson made a clutch catch that prevented Willie Mays and Matty Alou from scoring the runs that would have beaten the Yankees and given the Series to the San Francisco Giants.

Richardson's 12-year career statistics also include 643 runs scored and 73 stolen bases. He also had 196 doubles and 37 triples.

His best year was probably 1962, when he batted .302 with 8 home runs and 59 runs batted in. His 209 hits led the American League, and he stole 11 bases in 161 games. He made the AL All-Star team, won his second Gold Glove, and came in second in the AL MVP voting, just behind teammate Mickey Mantle. One of the best parts of Richardson's game was his ability to make contact. He struck out just 243 times in his entire 12-year career, less than 5% of his plate appearances. He was among the top three players in the league in at bats per strikeout eight times during his career, and led the league three times, 1964-1966. He twice led the league in sacrifice bunts.

He also led the league in at bats three times, partly because he batted early in the order and partly because he rarely missed a game, coming to be known as a workhorse. His career high was 692 at bats in 161 games in 1962.

Despite the raw totals, Richardson was a poor offensive player. Since he rarely walked, his career OBP was .299, and since he had little power, his career slugging percentage was only .335. Every year from 1961-1966 he finished in the top five in the American League in outs made, leading the league four of those six years. As Bill James remarked, "Richardson, frankly, was a horrible leadoff man. He rarely got on base and almost never got into scoring position. Leading off for the 1961 Yankees, playing 162 games and batting 662 times, with 237 home runs coming up behind him, Richardson scored only 80 runs. 80. Eight-zero...Plus Richardson used up a zillion outs while he was not scoring runs."[1] Only once, in 1962, which was Richardson’s best year, was his OPS+ over 100, and his career OPS+ was only 77.[2]

He had an all-time fielding percentage of .979 at second base.

After retiring from professional baseball, Richardson became a baseball coach at the University of South Carolina. In 1975, he led the Gamecocks to a 51-6 record and an appearance in the 1975 College World Series, where they lost to the Texas Longhorns 5-1 in the title game. Bobby Richardson is married to a first cousin of Lucy Burchfield.

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Postseason

Richardson won three World Series (1958, 1961, 1962) of the seven he played with the Yankees (1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964). Hardly moving from his position, he caught the final out of the 1962 Series, snaring a screaming line drive off the bat of Willie McCovey, which, if it had been two or three feet higher would have won the Series for the San Francisco Giants.

He was named World Series MVP in 1960 when he helped the Yankees against the Pittsburgh Pirates, although the Yankees lost in a Series in which normally light-hitting second basemen (the other being the Bucs' Bill Mazeroski) shone at the plate. During that Series, Richardson hit .367 with 11 hits in 30 at bats. He had a home run (a grand slam) and 12 RBIs, and also racked up two doubles and two triples in the seven-game series. To this day, Richardson remains the only World Series MVP selected from the losing team. His record of 6 runs batted in in a single World Series game in 1960's game 3 stood untouched for 49 years until another Yankee, Hideki Matsui, tied it in game 6 of the 2009 World Series.

In the 1964 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he tied a World Series record with 13 hits. However, with the Yankees losing 7-5 in Game 7, and batting against Cardinal ace Bob Gibson, he had the dubious distinction of making the final out of the Series, popping out to Dal Maxvill.

Post Baseball Career

Richardson ran for the United States Congress from South Carolina's 5th Congressional District in 1976 as a Republican, losing to incumbent Democrat Kenneth Holland by a narrow margin. Holland was aided by the strength of Jimmy Carter's winning campaign in South Carolina to hold off Richardson by a tally of 66,073 (51.4%) to 62,095 (48.3%.) There were 342 votes for an independent candidate and scattered write-ins. His campaign was supported by former baseball players Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, and Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell among others. Richardson's old friend, Yankee shortstop Tony Kubek, declined to campaign for him because Kubek was a Democrat.

In the 1980s, Richardson served as the collegiate baseball coach at Liberty University and also for two seasons (1985-86) at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, where he compiled a record of (61-38). He also coached the South Carolina Gamecocks to a second-place finish in the 1975 College World Series — the first CWS in the school's history.

Richardson is a born-again Christian. He is a national leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a much sought-after Christian speaker. He makes personal appearances at churches. For instance, he appeared on October 27, 2007, at North Monroe Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana, to sign autographs and share baseball tales with fans of all age groups.[3]

Trivia

  • Richardson wore the uniform number 1 (one) for the majority of his career (1958-1966)
  • His manager Casey Stengel once made this observation about Richardson, who was better known for his glove than his bat: "Look at him. He don't drink, he don't smoke, he don't chew (tobacco), he don't stay out too late, and he still don't hit .250!" His career average was, in fact, .266, and he batted at a .305 clip in World Series play.
  • Referring to Bobby Richardson's clutch hitting, Casey Stengel later said, "Bobby Richardson was the best .260 hitter ever to play the game."
  • Richardson is the only player to win the World Series M.V.P. for a losing team.

Notes

In the late 1960s there was an LP record produced and titled --- The Bobby Richardson Story. Produced by Word Records Inc., Waco, Texas. LP # W-3343-LP The sub-title is The Exciting First-Person Account of His Own Life, By the Yankees' Famous Second Baseman....

Sources

1. ESPN web site, yearly list of World Series results from the beginning to the present.

Preceded by
Larry Sherry
World Series MVP
1960
Succeeded by
Whitey Ford
Preceded by
Robin Roberts
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
1963
Succeeded by
Ken Boyer

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