Born: November 5, 1942
Richard Alan Scheinblum was born November 5, 1942 in New York City and moved with his father and stepmother to Englewood. Richie spent his early childhood in the Bronx, where he played soccer, baseball and basketball. He continued to compete in those sports in New Jersey and earned varsity letters at Dwight Morrow High School. There was a lot of talent in the halls of the school when Richie was there, including actor Peter Coyote and songwriter Freddie Perrin.
Richie enrolled at CW Post, where he studied Business Administration and starred for the baseball team in the outfield. Occasionally during ballgames, Richie would sneak off and compete in adjacent track events. A switch-hitter, he batted .395 during his college career and signed a contract with Cleveland Indians after graduation in 1964. He hit well in the minors and received brief call-ups in 1965, 1967 and 1968. In 1969, he spent most of the year in Cleveland but didn’t hit his weight. He spent 1970 in the minors. The Indians sold Richie to the Washington Senators after the season and, although his average did not improve, his approach to hitting did thanks to manager Ted Williams. He batted .388 in 1971 for the Senators’ AAA club in Denver and was named American Association MVP.
The Senators sold Richie to the Kansas City Royals a year later and finally, in 1972, he was able to duplicate his minor-league success in the majors. Manager Bob Lemon moved Richie into the 4 and 5 spots in the lineup and he had a torrid June to raise his average into the .330s. The timing couldn’t have been better. The Royals sent Richie and Cookie Rojas to the All-Star Game in Atlanta. Richie subbed for centerfielder Bobby Murcer in the 6th inning, moving to right, with Reggie Jackson moving to center. He was in the on-deck circle when Rojas slugged a pinch-hit two-run homer to give the AL the lead. Richie pulled a grounder to first off Bill Stoneman in his lone at bat. The NL tied the game and Joe Morgan won it in the 10th with a line drive between Richie and Reggie to score Nate Colbert from second.
Richie finished the 1972 season batting an even .300 with 8 homers and 66 RBIs. In November, the Royals traded Richie to the Reds as part of a four-player deal that brought Hal McRae to Kansas City. Richie was relegated to pinch-hitting duties in Cincinnati, and not contributing much. The Reds traded him to the Angels in June for a player to be named later and he flourished in Anaheim. He batted .328 and had the second-highest slugging average on the club, behind Frank Robinson. After a slow start in 1964, the Angels traded Richie back to the Royals for veteran Paul Schaal. After three months in Kansas City, the Royals sold Richie to the Cardinals, who sent to AAA. He ended up playing just 6 late-season games for the Cards. Those were Richie’s final games in a major league uniform. He finished his career with a .263 average and was one of just a handful of Jewish major leaguers in the early 1970s.
Richie wasn’t quite through with baseball, however. In 1975, he signed a contract with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the Japanese Central League and helped the club finish in first place. Richie joined fellow American Gail Hopkins and famed sluggers Koji Yamamoto and Sachio Kinagusa in a potent lineup, batting .281 in 117 games. The Carp lost to the Hankyu Braves in the Japan Series. Richie returned to Hiroshima for the 1976 season. He batted .307 with 20 homers at the age of 33 for the third-place Carp. At the time, Japanese teams were limited to two Americans. For 1977, the Carp signed Adrian Garrett and Jimmy Lytle, effectively ending Richie’s baseball career.
Richie decided to tend to his business interests and work with is son, Monte, who was born in 1967 and had lived with him in Japan. Monte was starting to carry on the family legacy as a multisport athlete. After injuring his pitching arm in high school, Monte ended up playing gold professionally. He was the world long-driving champion in 1992 and played for many years on the Nike Tour.