Bobby Richardson

Respected as a competitor and as a clean-living, God-fearing gentleman, Richardson played a solid second base on seven Yankee pennant-winners. He had great range and was particularly adept at turning the double play; teamed with shortstop Tony Kubek, he led the AL in double plays four times. He won five consecutive Gold Gloves (1961-65).

Though Richardson hit .301 in 1959, the singles hitter was not usually one of the Yankees’ major offensive threats. An exception was his sensational performance in the 1960 World Series, which won him Series MVP honors. He batted .367 with 11 hits, a grand slam, and eight runs scored. He set WS records with 12 total RBI and 6 RBI in Game Three, though he had driven in only 26 runs during the regular season. In 1961, he tied records for a five-game Series with nine hits and 23 at-bats, for a .391 average. He dramatically ended the 1962 Series when he caught Willie McCovey‘s hard liner with two on and two out in the ninth inning of Game Seven to preserve the Yankees’ 1-0 victory over San Francisco.

Manager Casey Stengel platooned Richardson with Jerry Lumpe in 1957 and 1958, and never gave Richardson more than 469 at-bats a year. He once said of the young second baseman, “He don’t smoke, he don’t drink, and he still can’t hit .250.” Ralph Houk, who took over the Yankees in 1961, liked a set lineup. He played Richardson every day and placed him at the top of the order. The combination of leading off for the best offense in the league and rarely walking resulted in Richardson leading the AL in at-bats each year from 1962 through 1964, setting an AL record with 692 in ’62. That year his 209 hits were the AL high. He batted .302 and finished second to Mickey Mantle in MVP voting. On June 24, he tied a ML record by coming to bat 11 times in a 22-inning game against Detroit.

His Yankee teammates were a down-and-dirty bunch, but they tried to clean up their act around the religious Richardson. Once Moose Skowron struck out three times in a game and came storming into the dugout, threw his equipment down, and was cursing as he walked down the bench. As he passed Richardson, still cursing, he threw in an “Excuse me, Bobby,” and continued with his obscenities, cracking up the whole team. After the collapse of the Yankee dynasty in 1965 Richardson and shortstop Tony Kubek decided between themselves that it would be bad for the team if they both retired at once. Kubek’s injuries limited his effectiveness, so he called it quits after the 1965 season, with Richardson staying through 1966. He coached college ball after his playing days.