Houston Matters

From the All-Star Game to homelessness: Late Astros’ star J.R. Richard’s story of redemption

The late Astros pitcher discussed his memoir “Still Throwing Heat: Strikeouts, the Streets, and a Second Chance” in 2015.


A black-and-white photo of Astros pitcher J.R. Richard throwing a baseball in 1978
Steve Helber/AP
Late Astros pitcher J.R. Richard on the mound in 1978.


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Last night was Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. The Houston Astros had three players named to the team, but only Kyle Tucker actually participated in the American League’s 3-2 loss to the National League in Seattle.

More than 40 years ago, in 1980, one of the players that represented them in the All-Star Game was pitcher J.R. Richard. He was a mainstay in the Astros’ rotation throughout the 1970s, one of the dominant pitchers of his era, who saw it all vanish when he suffered a stroke at the age of 30.

The descent was sharp – filled with aborted comeback attempts, continued health challenges, divorce, depression, economic woes and – for a time – homelessness. But Richard's story is also one of redemption. Faith and a new love helped him turn his life around.

Back in 2015, Richard talked about his journey of redemption and his memoir, Still Throwing Heat: Strikeouts, the Streets, and a Second Chance with Houston Matters host Craig Cohen. Richard passed away in 2021.

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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