Family and fans fill church to honor former Astros pitcher JR Richard at his funeral

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Family, friends and fans of J.R. Richard, a flame-throwing right-hander who spent 10 years with the Houston Astros, said their goodbyes at his funeral Saturday morning.

The team announced his death last Thursday but did not provide any further details.

Several people in attendance at the Fountain of Praise honored Richard by wearing his jersey.

Mayor Sylvester Turner was also there and shared some words.

"A tremendous player," Turner said. "That fastball is what he was known for, but then when that stroke hit him in 1980 and sidelined him from baseball, that didn't stop him. He went from being on the mound to being in the community."

The 6-foot-8 Richard intimidated hitters with an effectively wild delivery, a fastball that often touched 100 mph and an almost unhittable breaking ball. He was selected by the Astros with the second overall pick in the 1969 draft and struck out 15 batters in a complete-game win over the Giants in his major league debut on Sept. 5, 1971.

According Turner, Richard was a big person in stature, but his heart was even bigger.

Kids sporting their baseball uniforms also gathered at the funeral to pay tribute to one of the greatest pitchers in the league.

Richard pitched for Houston from 1971-80, going 107-71 with a 3.15 ERA and 76 complete games. Richard won a career-best 20 games in 1976, the first of four straight seasons with at least 18 wins.
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