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Paul Rapier Richards

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[edit] Biographical Information

Paul Richards played eight seasons in the majors and managed 12 years. He was the original general manager of the expansion Houston Colt .45's (1962-1965). He also spent time as GM of the Baltimore Orioles (1955-1958) and Atlanta Braves (1967-1972). He was the farm director of the Chicago White Sox (1978-1981) and assistant GM of the Texas Rangers (1982).

Richards was born in Waxahachie, TX (south of Dallas, TX) and went to high school there. He played minor league ball beginning at age 17. During 17 years in the minors he had a batting average of .295. He was an infielder (2B-SS-3B) for the first few years, tried some pitching in 1928 and 1929, and settled in at catcher beginning in 1930. From 1936-1942 he was with the Atlanta Crackers.

His major league days were before and after Atlanta. He was up in the bigs from 1932 to 1935 and again from 1943 to 1946. During his first stint he was a regular only for Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics in 1935 while in his second stint he was the regular for the Detroit Tigers in 1943 and 1944. In 1945 he was 10th in the MVP voting although Bob Swift was in more games at catcher than Richards. Richards, however, started in the 1945 World Series, which the Tigers won over the Chicago Cubs.

Richards played exclusively catcher in the majors.

Paul became a player-manager while at Atlanta, and continued when at Buffalo in 1947. Thereafter, in 1948 and 1949 with Buffalo and with Seattle in 1950, he managed but did not play. He managed at the major league level beginning in 1951, with the White Sox, and all his 12 years as a major league manager were with two teams, the White Sox and the Orioles. With the White Sox, Richards took a team which had finished far under .500 in 1950 and turned them into an above-.500-team four years in a row. He then took a below-.500 Orioles team, and while it took a few years, he managed to turn them into an above-.500 team in 1960 and 1961. He came back one more time to manage the 1976 Chicago White Sox when he was 67 years old: one of his starters, the 21-year-old Chet Lemon, had been born in 1955, when Richards was already in his fifth year as a major league manager. In his first stint as a manager, he was considered a great innovator; when he came back, the game had passed him by. Most famously, he decided to turn the Sox's two young bullpen aces, Rich Gossage and Terry Forster, into starters, because that's what you did with hard throwers in the 1950s; in contrast, Pete Vuckovich, who would turn out to be an excellent starter, was used out of the bullpen. None of the three had any success in their newly-assigned roles as the White Sox had an awful season.

[edit] Notable Achievements


Preceded by
Red Corriden
Chicago White Sox Manager
1951-1954
Succeeded by
Marty Marion
Preceded by
Jimmie Dykes
Baltimore Orioles Manager
1955-1961
Succeeded by
Lum Harris
Preceded by
Art Ehlers
Baltimore Orioles General Manager
1955-1958
Succeeded by
Lee MacPhail
Preceded by
N/A
Houston Colt .45s/Astros General Manager
1962-1965
Succeeded by
Tal Smith
Preceded by
John McHale
Atlanta Braves General Manager
1967-1972
Succeeded by
Eddie Robinson
Preceded by
Chuck Tanner
Chicago White Sox Manager
1976
Succeeded by
Bob Lemon

[edit] Further Reading

  • Warren Corbett: "The Oriole Way: The Founding Fathers", in Bob Brown, ed.: Monumental Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Capital Region, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 39, 2009, pp. 89-92.
  • Warren Corbett: The Wizard of Waxahachie: Paul Richards and the End of Baseball as We Knew It, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, TX, 2009.

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