Baker recounts squaring off vs. Astros' Richard

Baker recounts squaring off vs. Astros' Richard

HOUSTON -- In 1977, 28-year-old Dusty Baker went into the last day of the season needing one home run to reach the 30-homer milestone and make his Dodgers the first team in history to have four batters hit 30 homers.

In his third at-bat that day, Baker hit his 30th home run off the Astros' J.R. Richard, who became friends with Baker when they were teenagers. The Astros inducted Richard into their Walk of Fame on Friday afternoon, and afterward, Richard came down to the Reds' clubhouse to talk with Baker, the Reds' manager.

Baker said the two have remained good friends after all these years.

"It's good to see him. It's good to see him looking good too," Baker said. "I'm glad they're honoring him tonight. He was one of the best there was."

Baker's career batting average against Richard was .157 (11-for-70) and his slugging percentage was .200. Baker hit one career home run off Richard: the one on the final day of the 1977 season.

Baker struck out against Richard 24 times, more than when facing any other pitcher in his career.

"He didn't give me any mercy," Baker said.

On July 30, 1980, Richard had a stroke and collapsed. The stroke ended his Major League career. Baker remembered visiting Richard in the hospital.

"He was always in good spirits," Baker said. "He seems to be in good spirits now too."