Richmond rips off a Canada Day win
* RHP Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, Ont.), who got his start with the Mississauga Majors coach and coach Ron Szczepanowski was the Canada Day starter — and winner for the London Rippers./Photo: April Whitzman ….
By April Whitzman
“It was an amazing experience to start on Canada Day,” said Jamie Richmond, Mississauga-native starting pitcher for the London Rippers, “I’m glad the team never gave up and we were able to get the win.”
In the Rippers’ 9-8 win over the Washington Wildthings, the 26-year-old right-hander went eight innings, allowing six runs — two earned — on nine hits to earn the win and move to 4-2 on the season. His 2.52 ERA is second-best for the Rippers, while his 50 strikeouts is fourth overall in the Frontier League.
“I’ve found success this year thanks to a strong command of my fastball and slider,” said Richmond.
Richmond’s success, however, has not only been found within the Frontier League, as after a strong performance at Cawthra High School, Richmond was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 31st round of the 2004 MLB Draft.
In 2006 Richmond was pitcher of the year in the class-A Appalachian League with the Danville Braves going 7-1 with a 1.21 ERA in 14 appearances, making 12 starts. He walked four and struck out 52 in 67 innings on the same staff as future big leaguers Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen.
And the Appy League hitter of the year? Maybe you’ve heard of him? It was Blue Jays former No. 1 pick, outfielder Travis Snider, who hit .325 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs in 54 games.
Richmond spent three seasons with the Braves organization before getting traded to the Oakland Athletics along with pitcher Joey Devine, for outfielder Mark Kotsay in 2008. His 2009 season was spent with class-A Kane County and class-A Stockton, where he posted a 6-3 record with a 3.64 ERA in 40 games (76.2 innings pitched), striking out 67 while only walking eight.
Despite a strong performance, Richmond’s 2009 season was his last with Oakland. That said, Richmond has since found success with the Rippers in 2012.
How does the Frontier League compare with affiliated ball?
“There is not too much difference between the leagues,” Richmond said. “Both offer strong hitters and strong pitching. I’ve found that some hitters are less consistent at the plate, and I am fortunate to be able to take advantage of some of the weaknesses. Overall, however, both leagues offer a tremendous amount of talent.”
Richmond not only discussed his enjoyment of playing in such a talented league, but also his appreciation of having a team of this calibre in Canada. His teammate, Adam Arnold, a native of St. Thomas, Ont., (a mere 45 minutes from Labbatt Park, home of the Rippers), and former 2007 41st round draft pick for the Milwaukee Brewers, echoed Richmond’s beliefs.
“Having a team in Canada is great, especially for Canadians trying to pursue an opportunity to play. It gives Canadians more opportunity to perform and shows more Canadians about the sport of baseball,” said Arnold, who in 2010, also spent time playing for the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League.
Richmond had kind words to state of his teammate, who relieved him and received the first two outs in the ninth inning. “Arnold is Captain Canada,” laughed Richmond. “He always plays hard and while he’s had some tough luck as of late, he’s starting to figure it out.”
Richmond spoke highly of his time with Team Canada, in which he played with the team for several years and helped the team win a bronze medal in 2011. “There is no better feeling than playing with Team Canada and putting the country on our chest. It gives me pride to play for my country and I have loved the opportunites that playing with Team Canada has presented me.
“I cannot single out any moment as a favourie as every moment with Team Canada was unbelievable. I can only hope I’ll get another opportunity to join the team in the future.”
Richmond’s Canadian roots, however, stem not only for playing for Team Canada, but also with his favourite hobby: “I absolutely adore playing hockey,” said Richmond, who has played goal since he was young. “I don’t regret pursuing baseball as I have been blessed with many opportunities because of it, but I admit I do miss playing hockey. I play it whenever I get the opportunity nowadays.”
Richmond’s father highlighted the advantages of his son’s hockey skills: “That’s why he makes all the line drive catches headed towards him, as a goallie, he’s used to needing quick reflexes to stop the pucks directed towards his body.”
Thanks to his many talents, there is no denying that Richmond will continue to find success both with the Rippers and in his future.