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Bobby Richardson’s Best Catch

Bobby’s Best Catch:  Some would argue that it was his game-ending catch in the seventh game of the 1962 World Series.

I beg to differ.

 

Thursday, 29 January

As you read this, DeDe and I are traveling to a new African country.

We’ll be there for most of the month.

How to pray for us this month:

  • Pray for the language challenges: French and Arabic.
  • Pray that we’ll meet men and women of peace.
  • That we’ll be focused on the unreached groups we’re studying.

I’m very excited about today’s blog post.

Enjoy.

Don’t miss the memorable audio at the end of this post.

 

 

Bobby R’s Best Catch

Game 7 of the World Series:

Bottom of the ninth.  Two outs.

Home team, one run behind, has runners at second and third.

Tying run on third.  Winning run on second.

It doesn’t get any better than this.

Richardson Kendall

 

 

 

 

The boy in the Royals shirt

 

http://www.creekbank.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/01-Bobby-Richardson-testimony.mp3copy2.mp3     20 JAN 2015 COMPRESSED BY ANTHONY

 

 

We were both in the wounded ward at Kenya’s Kijabe CURE Hospital.

I was in for a post-op shoulder inspection.  I was wearing my Astros Jersey.  My arm in a sling.

The boy in the Kansas City Royals shirt had a large knee brace on.

I’m no doctor but knew it. Torn ACL.

The young man—who looked to be about 17—had a nice smile.

I asked, “Are you a Royals fan?”

“Not really. Someone sent me this shirt.”

He nodded at my Astros jersey and grinned. “I’m actually a Yankees’ fan.”

I tried to keep a poker face. Where I come from, you either love or hate the Yanks. My dad adored them. I’ve never been a fan.

KC Royals continued, “My grandfather played for the Yankees from ‘55 to ’66.”

He had my attention.

“What was his name?”

“Bobby Richardson.”

Wow. The grandson of Bobby Richardson.

 

BobbyRichardsonScreen Shot 2014-11-27 at 5.59.16 PM

 

I asked KC Royals,  “What is your name?”

“Richardson Kendall.”

“That’s a good name. What are you doing here?”

“I’m here for knee surgery.”

I asked, “What are you doing here in Africa?”

He nodded at the man sitting next to him.  “My parents work at Rift Valley Academy. I’m a senior there.”

His dad,  neatly dressed with a bowtie, introduced himself.

Soon, a possession of friends and well-wishers arrived at the hospital.  A pastor prayed a sweet and powerful prayer with Richardson.   Fellow students on their way to class (RVA is next to Kijabe Hospital) dropped in for hugs and words of encouragement.

I realized I was in the presence of a celebrity.  Not because he was the grandson of a NY Yankee hero, but because of the quality of young man he was.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 4.18.34 PM

 

Richardson’s grandfather, Bobby Richardson, was the star second baseball for the great Yankees teams from 1955-66.

He was the hero for two men I adored as heroes: my childhood pastor, Bob Evans and my Daddy.

Pastor Bob Evans grew up in Bobby Richardson’s hometown of Sumter, South Carolina. He had an endless supply of Richardson stories.  I took every one into my heart.

My Daddy, Clayton Iles, started following the Yankees as a boy.

His first hero was Joe DiMaggio.

Daddy, who played softball until his sixties, was a DiMaggio-type outfielder in his prime. Playing with him (and beside him in the outfield) is still one of the highlights of my life.

I wanted to call Daddy and say, “I met Bobby Richardson’s grandson today.”

Isn’t it amazing?   Daddy died a dozen years ago and I still think about calling him and discussing something.

Many times, our calls would start with baseball.

Twelve years. Men who’ve lost their father much longer tell me that void never goes away.

Since I can’t tell Daddy, I’ll tell you.

But to our family, Bobby Richardson was a solid follower of Jesus. He used his fame to spread the Gospel. This is the man who led a dying Mickey Mantle to the Lord and then spoke at his funeral.

Be sure to listen to the audio at the end of this post.  Richardson shares about his relationship with Mantle.

Bobby Richardson was  a solid player on nine American League champions (and 3 World Championships).  He was a strong glove at second, a great contact hitter (Only 243 strikeouts in his entire career.) and a beloved teammate to Maris, Mantle, and many others.

 Click here to learn about his life, career, and successful college baseball coaching career.

Bobby Richardson is part of one of the greatest plays in World Series lore.

It’s the seventh game of the 1962 World Series.

San Fransisco, California.

The Yankees lead the Giants 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth.  

The Giants put men into scoring position with two outs.

Tying run at third.  

Winning run at second. 

Willie McCovey

Left-handed hitting Willie McCovey, who’d hit a triple in his last at bat, comes to the plate.

Baseball purists are still discussing why the Yankees didn’t walk him to load the bases.

McCovey always hits the ball hard.

This at bat is no different.  It’s described as a “wicked line drive.”

And the ball ends up in the glove of Bobby Richardson who is perfectly positioned for the lefty pull hitter.

The Yankees win.

Giants lose. 

A baseball moment about what didn’t happen. See a series overview  at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bD1TPzwIG9I

 

 

Aftermath of 1962 World Series

Aftermath of 1962 World Series.

 

Most would say it was Richardson’s best catch.

I beg to differ.

He left baseball at the young age of thirty. In the prime of his career.  In the audio he shares how he and his roommate, shortstop Tony Kubek, talked often about how they were missing out on their families. Especially watching their children grow up.

So they both decided to retire early.

And they did.

Richardson went on to be a successful college coach at South Carolina.  He later founded the baseball program at Liberty University.

He taught young men in more than the art of hitting the curve.  He was a spiritual mentor.

He went from catching line drives to “catching lives” as a fisher of men.

He’s now retired.  Living in his hometown of Sumter.  Still touching lives.

 

I firmly believe his best catch was making a decision to be there for his family.

We can argue all day about how his career stats would have been if he’d played eight or ten more years.

He probably gave up a spot in the Hall of Fame with his shortened career.

But I don’t think he has regrets.

I saw proof of it at a remote Bush hospital in Kenya.

In the face and smile of a young man in a Kansas City Royals shirt. A teenager who spoke so highly of the man his grandfather is.

An 18 year old with a good name.  Richardson Kendall.

Richardson Kendall

 

I’ve communicated with Richardson. His surgery went well.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you might send him a Facebook message.

I invite you to listen to a speech by Richardson that is among my favorite recordings.

 

 

 

 

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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3 comments

  1. Christie Richardson Kendall

    Rich’s Mom here. Bobby’s daughter. Sorry I missed meeting you that morning! Thank you for sharing this post. So encouraging. My Mother said it brought tears to my Dad’s eyes; mine too. Rich is missing his much anticipated Sr. Basketball season as he recovers. Instead of shining and leading the team as he would have, he is managing, learning service and humility. It’s hard, but we are so proud of him. Again, thank you for writing. 🙂
    Christie Richardson Kendall

    • Hey Christie, we’re in Chad/Africa and just getting back to the Internet world. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story. You have a wonderful legacy.

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