The Press Pass: Bobby Richardson 6-19-20

When Yogi Berra became manager of the Yankees, he planned to pretend to lay down the law in spring training and then surprise the players by saying that he was kidding about having strict rules. Before Yogi got to rule #3 in his list, Mickey Mantle threw down his bat and yelled, “I Quit!”

In an interview with WKXL’s Chris Ryan, Bobby Richardson discusses his playing days with the Yankees from 1957 to 1966 which included the Yankees winning three out of seven World Series Championships. In addition to being a sure handed fielder and a clutch hitter, he had a wholesome and friendly demeanor which endeared him to teammates and opponents. Richardson discusses how a born-again Christian from South Carolina became life-long friends with some of the greatest players in the history of the game—Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, Johnny Bench, and Stan Musial. He has made the arrangements for the funerals for nine of his teammates, most memorably Mickey Mantle’s.

A mutual interest in hunting and fishing was the common bond of his relationship with Ted Williams. After a night of partying, Mickey Mantle would still be ready to join Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek at an early Sunday morning service.

There is a discussion of the 1957 and 1958 World Series between the Yankees and the Milwaukee Braves, which had moved there from Boston in 1953. Bobby Richardson describes how the Yankees traveled to Wisconsin by train and a photo opportunity which involved having the Yankee manager, the legendary Casey Stengel milking a cow.

Game 7 of the 1960 World Series with the Pirates is considered one of the most interesting games in baseball history, and Bobby Richardson relives it in the interview. He also relives facing two of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history—Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson.

Bobby Richardson won five consecutive Gold Gloves at second base, from 1961 through 1965, the most by any Yankee at the position. He was an eight time All-Star at second base. In 1960, he was named the World Series MVP. Though the Yankees lost the Series in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Richardson batted .367 with 12 runs batted in (RBI). He won the next two World Series, ending the 1962 series by catching McCovey’s line drive in what The Sporting News called baseball’s 13th most memorable play in 1999. Richardson led the AL in hits that year, with 209. He has a career batting average of .266, and he was very difficult to strike out, only 243 times in his 12-year career.

A Hall of Fame career could have been a possibility for Bobby Richardson, but he retired at age 30 to spend more time with his family. He then began a very successful college coaching career at the University of South Carolina and several other schools.

In the conclusion of the interview, Bobby Richardson gives some fielding and batting advice to young players.