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Spec Richardson

H. B. "Spec" Richardson (born c. 1924) served as the General Manager for the Houston Astros from 1967 until 1975. He took over for Tal Smith and Paul Richards, each of whom built one of the most talented farm systems in baseball.

Richardson traded 31 year-old Mike Cuellar to the Baltimore Orioles for Curt Blefary in 1968, who would stay in Houston for a single season before being traded once again to the Yankees for Joe Pepitone. Pepitone would only stay one year in the Astrodome before going to the Chicago Cubs. Cuellar, however, was a key component of the Earl Weaver Orioles' pitching staff.

Richardson then traded Rusty Staub – a 24 year-old outfielder and first baseman who displayed remarkable ability to hit for high average and decent power (leading the league in doubles in 1967) within the confines of the cavernous Astrodome – to the Montreal Expos for Jesús Alou and Donn Clendenon. Clendenon refused to report, however, and Montreal instead sent Jack Billingham, Skip Guinn, and cash. The club may have felt that Staub's ankle problems would shorten his career, but Staub instead continued his exceptional hitting in Montreal, Detroit, and New York. John Mayberry – another young first base prospect – was traded to the Kansas City Royals for mediocre bullpen help. There he became an integral part of the Royals.

But Richardson's most memorable trade featured Joe Morgan, the Astros' young second baseman. Morgan was traded (along with 4 time gold glove winner César Gerónimo, Denis Menke, and Jack Billingham) to the Cincinnati Reds for Lee May and spare parts. Morgan went on to become the offensive heart of the Big Red Machine, and is largely held to be the greatest second baseman of the second half of the 20th century.

To his credit, Richardson recognized César Cedeño as a potential superstar, but the Astros spent his tenure and several years after it mired in mediocrity. Sabermetric research shows that the Astros would likely have been the best team in the National League throughout much of the 1970s. Instead, the team would not appear in the playoffs until 1980.

Richardson also served as general manager for the San Francisco Giants from 1976 to 1980.[1] [2] [3]

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