“Still Throwing Heat: Strikeouts, the Streets, and a Second Chance”, an autobiography by J.R. Richard and veteran sports book author Lew Freedman, with a forward by Nolan Ryan is due for release on Amazon, June 1, 2015.
Having only today learned of its coming publication, all we know of its contents are summarized in this marketing blurb from the following link:
“A flame-throwing star with the Houston Astros, J. R. Richard was at the top of his profession when he inexplicably began complaining of arm weakness in 1980. Initially scoffed at because he continued approaching 100 mph on the radar gun, everything changed when Richard collapsed while playing catch with a teammate—later diagnosed as a life-threatening stroke. The shocking development ended Richard’s major league career and set off a chain of events that led to the former All-Star being homeless by the mid-1990s. This rapid rise and sudden, tragic fall define the unusual, moving, and inspirational life of a Houston icon who has endured many hardships but has become an admired figure in his adopted hometown. J. R. Richard tells that story now in his own words, including the highs and the lows of his brilliant athletic career, the difficulties that befell him on and off the field, abandonment by those he counted on after his stroke, the despair of losing everything, and his ultimate redemption and giving back to the community.”
The Pecan Park Eagle wishes J.R. Richard well for all the success that is possible for his book. We may only hope that his memory of all the factors that contributed to his rise, fall and redemption are as wholly covered as they needed to be. When one has been down a tough road in life, it isn’t ever easy to embrace, own – and then write and publish all that needs to be said. All we can know for sure as readers, old friend, is that you covered the whole truth to the best of your ability – and that none of us will ever know the whole truth of yours – or any other’s life. We are only capable of perceiving what appears to be the truth of another from our direct experience with them – and even that perception is subjective and possibly not true at all.
All I know for sure is that you were one of the greatest and, hands down, certainly the scariest pitchers I ever saw work the mound – and that you most probably could have been another Hall of Fame pitcher in time, had you not encountered the 1980 career-ending, and almost life-ending stroke. As a friend from many years ago, I know you sometimes mistook urges for decisions – and entitlement with love. We just wrote those things off as warts. Everybody’s got some rough spots, right? And today it sounds as though a lot of healing has taken place with your marriage and new calling to the ministry. That’s great. Norma and I are happy for you.
Oh yeah, two more things I see as true – and I’m reasonably sure that first is not in your book, even though I saw it happen as one of the most jaw-dropping basketball shots I ever saw. Do you remember the time you came over to our house with your son for the oxtails that Norma cooked for you? During the dinner waiting period, we all went out to the driveway to shoot some hoops. Then you quickly tired of making close up shots and took the ball through the back gate down the right side of the house and took a side shot from about 50 feet away. It was a high arching shot that had to disappear briefly over an eave in the roof before it came down. – BUT – when it came down, it was nothing but net.
Then you made a decision that was no response to urge. You quit shooting any more baskets. And that was cool. – You did – what Babe Ruth should have done in Pittsburgh back in 1935 when he hit those three home runs. – He should have never picked up another bat again for the rest of his life and retired on the spot. – And I will only hope that you have never taken another basketball shot since 2002.
Yeah, we know that basketball shot story didn’t get in your book, but this perception – one that I share with thousands of Astros fans – surely should have made it, in some way:
In spite of the new Walk of Honor at Minute Maid Park, the Houston Astros still should retire # 50 as a jersey number in your honor!