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Paul Rapier Richards (November 21, 1908 — May 4, 1986) was an American player, manager, scout and executive in Major League Baseball. During his playing career, he was a catcher and right-handed batter with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1932), New York Giants (1933-35), Philadelphia Athletics (1935) and Detroit Tigers (1943-46). After retiring, he became the manager of the Chicago White Sox (1951-54, 1976) and Baltimore Orioles (1955-61). He was born in Waxahachie, Texas.
Richards became a successful manager with the White Sox in 1951, with four winning-record seasons, but his club always finished behind the Yankees ('51, '52, '53) and Indians ('54). With the Orioles, he served as both field manager and general manager through 1958. After Lee MacPhail was hired as GM in 1959, Richards served strictly as the O's field manager through mid-September 1961. As GM, he concentrated on signing good defensive players (such as Brooks Robinson) and hard-throwing young pitchers (such as Steve Barber, Milt Pappas and Chuck Estrada). The O's finally blossomed in 1960 with a second place after five disappointing seasons.
The following September, Richards resigned as manager of the Orioles to become general manager of the new Houston Colt .45s National League club. Richards stocked the Houston club (soon renamed the Astros) with young players – including Joe Morgan, Jimmy Wynn, Don Wilson and Rusty Staub – but he was fired after the 1965 season when the on-field results did not match ownership's expectations. The following year, Richards was hired as Director of Player Personnel by the Atlanta Braves – returning to the city where he excelled as a minor league catcher and player-manager for the Southern Association's Atlanta Crackers from 1938-42. By the end of the '66 season, Richards was given the title of general manager of the Braves.
Richards' six years at the helm of the Atlanta organization were in some ways his most successful in baseball: his 1969 Braves, skippered by his longtime protege Luman Harris, won the NL West title. But that team was swept by the eventual world champion "Miracle Mets" in the first National League Championship Series ever played, and the Braves failed to contend in 1970 and 1971. Strangely, Richards did not reinvigorate the system with young players, as he had successfully done in Baltimore and Houston. He was fired in the middle of the 1972 season, and replaced by Eddie Robinson.
In 1976, after 3½ years out of the game, Richards was hired by Bill Veeck to return to Chicago as manager of the White Sox. After a losing record, he retired from the field at the end of the season, but stayed in the game as a player personnel advisor with the White Sox, then the Texas Rangers.
Despite his skills as a motivator, mentor and strategist of the game, Richards never was able to lead a team to a pennant. Probably he is best known for designing the oversized catcher's glove used to catch knuckleball pitchers.
In 10 seasons as a player, Richards batted .227 with 15 home runs and 155 RBI. As a manager, he compiled a 923-901 record in 11 seasons (406-362 with Chicago, 517-539 with Baltimore).
Paul Richards died in Waxahachie, Texas at the age of 77.
- Baseball-Reference.com - career managing record and playing statistics
- Baseball Hall of Fame candidate profile
- Baseball Almanac
- Baseball Library
- The Deadball Era
- Georgia Sports Hall of Fame
|Chicago White Sox Manager|
|Baltimore Orioles Manager|
|Chicago White Sox Manager|
|Baltimore Orioles General Manager|
|Houston Colt .45s/Astros General Manager|
|Atlanta Braves General Manager|