1/1: 1980 Topps -- '79 ERA Leaders (previously signed by Guidry)
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Richard was a premier flamethrower for the Astros across the second half of the decade. After breaking out in 1976, Richard had three top-10 Cy Young seasons. He led the league in ERA in 1979 (2.71) and strikeouts in both 1978 (303) and 1979 (313).
Of course, indicative of the kind of pitcher he was, he also led the lead in walks (1975, 1976, 1978) and wild pitches (1975, 1978, 1979).
Who was the toughest pitcher for you to face as a batter?
J.R. Richard. He didn't have complete control, and he could have killed you at any time. – Johnny Bench [link]By 1980, Richard’s age-30 season, he had emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball. He was off to a brilliant start, at one point hurling three consecutive complete-game shutouts. He finished the first half with a 10-4 record, 115 strikeouts and a 1.96 ERA.
Richard exited a July 14th start in the fourth inning feeling deadness in his throwing arm. Tests would later reveal a completely obstructed artery. On July 30, Richard suffered a stroke and collapsed while playing pre-game catch, and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to remove a life-threatening blood clot in his neck. He would not pitch in the majors again.