By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
It’s a long, long road from Kingston to the hallowed halls of Fordham University.
Yet, that is the road RHP David Richards has travelled.
And Fordham U is where he is headed.
His mother, Elizabeth Richards, was pregnant with David in 1999, when his father, Steven Richards, was hired to work at Bombardier in Millhaven, and moved from Montreal.
Born at the Kingston General Hospital, Richards resided on Toronto Street in Kingston and Lynwood Drive in the Kingston Township. A year after Richards was born the family moved to Toronto, in 2001.
Next came a move to Edmonton, enrolling in the Vauxhall Academy to play for the Jets and then south to Gig Harbor, Wash. where he enrolled in Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma.
So to re-trace: Montreal to Kingston to Toronto to Edmonton to Vauxhall to Tacoma and now he is headed for Fordham in New York City for the fall of 2018.
The Canadian Baseball Network has been tracking Canadians in College on our master lists since 1999 and we have had a Columbia (Jon Mazzeo, Kingston, Ont.), some Harvards (RHP Jeffrey Mitchell Riverview, N.B.; Mike Dryden, Toronto, Ont.) and some Stanford Cardinal (Brad Drew, Waterloo, Ont.; Cal Quantrill, Port Hope, Ont.).
Yet, never were we aware of someone about to wear the Fordham Rams maroon and white.
Fordham is among the oldest in the nation and was the first college team to play the game according to modern rules. Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch, nicknamed the “Fordham Flash”, helped the Rams program win. He leapt over an opposing team’s catcher to score a run during a game. The incident was dubbed the “Fordham Flip.”
Vince Lombardi walked the Fordham halls. So did hoops coaches Digger Phelps and PJ Carlesimo.
And so did the legendary Vin Scully, the best there ever was.
Now it is Richards, who moved from Edmonton to enroll at Vauxhall, under coach Les McTavish.
“I had a great year,” Richards said, “if we weren’t going to move it was a great place. Playing the Okotoks Dawgs was always fun, they are our rivals.”
And the Jets going to Las Vegas each year was a highlight as well. Richards started the first game of the tourney against Bishop O’Gorman High School. Richards worked four scoreless innings, fanning four.
Jalen Lane and Richards combined to throw a no-hitter to beat Coeur d’Alene 5-0 in the final of the 2016 Memorial Tournament in Missoula, Mont. Lane started working five innings with two walks and two strikeouts. Richards tossed the final two innings walking one and fanning one. The no-no put a capper on the Jets 10th season.
Lane and Richards needed only 83 pitches as the Jets finished the season 29-18-2.
Vauxhall helped Richards make Team Alberta as an underage player in the 2016 Canada Cup in Fort McMurray. Richards had three outings: working two innings in a 5-4 loss to BC as he allowed four runs -- one earned; a scoreless inning in a 6-4 loss to Ontario and a scoreless inning in a 2-0 win over Saskatchewan. Alberta blanked Ontario 7-0 to win the fifth place game.
The Richards family moved to the U.S. for the pitcher’s junior year because of his father’s job responsibilities. He is a construction lawyer for PCL with an office in Seattle with responsibilities that cover the U.S. and Canada.
Richards attends Bellarmine Prep, where current Chicago Cub Jon Lester pitched. It is a rigorous Jesuit school, like Fordham. Richards earned varsity MVP at Bellarmine Prep his junior year. He also earned All-League status in the South Puget Sound 4A conference this spring, In addition to a taking his turn on the mound, Richards hit .380 for Bellarmine.
And just this week he made the 17U NTIS (USA Baseball National Team Identification Series) Northwest Team which means a trip to Cary, NC in August for the final selection process.
He also pitched at the Team USA 17U Pacific Northwest Regional All-Star game at University of Washington’s Husky Ballpark.
This summer he’ll also pitch for Narrows baseball, a Seattle Premier League team based in Gig Harbor. Sometimes he faces Canadians like David Rhodes (White Rock, BC) of the Pacific Northwest Regional/Seattle Select and Steven Moretto (Coquitlam, BC) of the North Shore Twins.
“I don’t miss much about Edmonton except my friends and I get back during summer vacations to see them,” said Richards, an Edmonton Oilers fan who watched his team lose to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Fordham coach Kevin Leighton along with assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Rob DiToma had been talking to Richards since January. The Fordham offer came off of a workout at the Head First Academic Showcase where he showed well. He ran a 6.96 60 yard, swung a 91 MPH exit velocity and threw against 10 batters with his fastball up to 87 MPH, striking out seven.
The U.S. schools “love left handed batters which Canada produces in large numbers,” points out the left-handed hitting Richards.
His best game pitching for the Narrows came when he pitched a seven-inning, three-hit shutout over another Seattle team as he struck out five.
“There was a period of adjustment,” Richards said. “The level of competition is strong. Every team is very good. We play every single day.”
In Seattle he’s called “Capt. Canuck” ... as Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) was a year ago in his run to make the all-star game.
Now, the son of a Queen’s (University) man and his mom, who used to work as a volunteer with the Canadian Celiac Disease Association heads to Fordham where he will study business.