Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chris Richard, 2002 Fleer Flair #90

Do you want to feel old? Of course you do, who doesn't? I know I love it whenever my sister points out how many gray hairs I have. Anyhow, try this on for size: Chris Richard retired last week.

Truth be told, I don't have many memories of Chris' two and a half seasons in Baltimore. They coincided with my first few years of college, probably the span of time when I was least attentive to the Orioles. But I stirred up a hornet's nest in September of 2009 when I made an offhand mention on this blog that the one-time Bird had a reputation as arrogant back in those days. I had no first-hand knowledge, I was just repeating what had been reported in the past by writers on the O's beat. No less than four people left comments on this post to disabuse me of that notion. As I conceded in response to one comment, there are two sides to every story and it was possible that the local media members had rushed to judgment on Chris based on a regrettable comment here or a bad day there.

I didn't give Chris Richard much more thought until I read a thoughtful article from the Independent Weekly of Durham, NC. Writer Adam Sobsey paints a picture of a player and a man much more like the one that my readers seemed to know. He disappeared from the major leagues after a serious shoulder injury in 2003 (save for a late-season stint with the Rays in 2009), but converted full-time to first base and kept plugging along for six full seasons of bus rides and AAA stadiums. The last four of those seasons were spent with Tampa Bay's Durham Bulls affiliate, and he became the face of the team. That's not usually what a pro baseball player (especially one with big league experience) aspires to, but Chris thrilled Bulls fans with a franchise-record 84 home runs from 2007-2010. Off the field, he always had time for an autograph or public appearance, or a quote for a reporter. But he's 36, and the Rays went younger and didn't ask him back for 2011. He plans to chip in on some Durham radio broadcasts and is opening a baseball academy nearby for kids ages 8-18. It sounds like he's moving on with his life and looking to share his talents with the community that has adopted him. Best of luck, Chris.


spikewilliams said...

The only fly ball I ever caught in the stands of a game was hit by Chris Richard, so he's OK in my book.

Anonymous said...

I used to know Chris & we had some mutual acquaintances. I'm glad to see that you've sort of changed you're opinion of him. In his defense, from what I understand, the rumors of his arrogance were started by one sports writer for reasons I won't go into. Let's just say the guy had a personal issue with Chris for a really stupid reason. Unfortunately, other journalists & bloggers took what was said in the article & ran with it. Truth be told, Chris could probably sue this guy for other statements that he made about Chris at various times.

Kevin said...

Spike - That's pretty good criteria. I once narrowly missed a Ken Griffey, Jr. homer to the Camden Yards RF bleachers.

Anon - Yeah, I certainly know that writers are no different from anyone else. They can have their own biases and grudges.

Anonymous said...

With his late-season call up to the Rays in 2009, Chris has a unique stat...longest time-between-at-bats in the Majors, something like 5 years 4 months. I think he still holds (tied) the Orioles record for RBI (7) and total bases (13) in a 9 inning game.