HOUSTON -- Former Astros pitcher J.R. Richard, who went 107-71 with a 3.15 ERA in 10 seasons in a Houston uniform, was inducted into the Astros Walk of Fame on Friday afternoon by having his engraved star unveiled along Texas Avenue outside Minute Maid Park.
"It means a great deal to me that they would even acknowledge the fact I played here, and it made me feel really good," said Richard, whose career was cut short at age 30 by a stroke midway through the 1980 season.
Richard, an intimidating 6-foot-8 right-hander, was one of the most feared pitchers in baseball and holds two of the Astros' three 300-strikeout seasons, coming in back-to-back years in 1978-79. He finished in the Top 5 in the Cy Young voting in both of those seasons.
He threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game against the Reds, wearing a 1970s-era rainbow jersey with his name and the No. 50 on his back.
"If I had to pick one pitcher to win a big game, J.R. Richard would be up there with Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax, and I would probably pick J.R. because I know him so well," said Tal Smith, the former Astros general manager and president of baseball operations who was at the ceremony. "He was the most dominating, intimidating pitcher of his era."
Richard, 62, said he would like to work for the Astros one day.
"I would have to be beneficial," he said. "I wouldn't want to be over here just to be seen."