Friday’s winner was Mike Lowell; he will go on to face the winner of today’s match (Gene Richards) in the Sweet Sixteen.
One thing I have found over the years is that there is always something new to learn about the Valley League. After I had already created the brackets for this competition, I discovered that one of the participants, Larry Sheets, actually did not play in the VBL, as he signed a pro contract straight out of high school. Sooooooo, today is a forfeit; Gene Richards (Harrisonburg 1974) will move on to the next round. Here is the summation of Richards while we’re at it:
- Gene Richards had a relatively short career, only eight years in the majors, but they were pretty dynamic years. The first overall pick of the San Diego Padres in the 1975 January draft, Richards was putting in full seasons in the majors as early as 1977. He burst on the scene in ’77, hitting .290/.363/.390 in 525 at-bats, with 16 doubles, 11 triples, five home runs, 56 stolen bases, and a 60/80 BB/K ratio. He finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. His best season was the next one, 1978, when he hit .308/.381/.420 in 555 at-bats, with 90 runs scored, 26 doubles, 12 triples, four home runs, 37 stolen bases, and a 64/80 BB/K ratio. The star burned brightly, but it didn’t last long, as 1984 was Richards’ last season in the majors. In his career, over 3,549 at-bats, he hit .290/.357/.383, with 127 doubles, 63 triples, 26 home runs, 247 stolen bases, and a 356/436 BB/K ratio. He led the National League in singles in 1980, and triples in 1981. After his career, he spent several seasons coaching and managing in the minor leagues, including in Hagerstown in 2005.