The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Breaking News


June 9, 2013

Pitcher perfect

133 years ago Wednesday, John Lee Richmond, born in Sheffield Twp. and raised in Geneva, threw the first perfect game in Major League Baseball history


Moving on

After graduating from Brown and throwing his perfect game, Richmond became a medical student at the University of City of New York (later to be named New York University). He received his doctor of medicine degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York in 1883, while still playing professional baseball.

After giving up baseball, Richmond returned here to Ashtabula County, opening a private practice. However, he soon found that medicine was not for him and he went to Geneva High School, where he taught mathematics and chemistry for a time.

In 1890, Richmond moved to Toledo. He taught in Toledo public schools for 32 years, first at Central High, then at Scott High. His love for baseball did not fade, however, as he coached four championship squads while at Scott.

He then joined the University of Toledo faculty as assistant professor of mathematics in 1922 and was later appointed professor of hygiene and physical education.

Richmond became the acting dean of men at Toledo in 1923 and the dean of men in 1925. He retired in 1929.

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, 1929, Richmond died at his home at age 72. He had suffered a stroke a month earlier, but appeared to be recovering before suffering a relapse.

Honoring the pitcher

One of the finest baseball writers of the early 20th century, John B. Foster, writing for the Providence Journal, described John Lee Richmond, the pitcher, this way:

“Lee Richmond was a pitching of cunning and control. He knew much about the curve that was just then beginning to make greater headway.

“He studied his batters and he accepted the help of his catcher. He was not a strikeout pitcher, in the sense that he tried to lord over the batter by using great speed.

“He had a good change of pace, and he worked the batters’ weak spots, tempting them to swing, luring him to lunge, and often managing to strike him out because one of those evasive curves would bend away, increasing its loop with a gentle motion that induced the batter to reach our farther and upset his balance.

“When Richmond first went West to pitch, after having tossed his perfect game against the Cleveland club in Worcester, the baseball enthusiasts in the country beyond the Allegheny Mountains could not believe that this slender chap, with a little brush of a mustache and a placid smile, could be the man who had defeated the famous Cleveland team with its marvelous infield and hard-hitting outfield.

“Dunlap played second base for Cleveland in those days, and he was one of the best hitters of his time, but Richmond fooled him completely.”

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