City Desk

Bill Richardson Finally Admits There Was No Play for Pay Scheme in His Baseball Past

I saw my first Cape Cod League game over the summer, expecting to catch Fairfax phenom Mike Bianucci playing for the Cotuit Kettleers.

As luck would have it, the W.T. Woodson grad and Auburn University star signed a contract with the Texas Rangers and left the Cape to mere hours before game time to start his pro career.

But while I was at the game and talking with locals about the Kettleers' history, more than one fan mentioned that Bill Richardson, the current New Mexico governor and burgeoning scandal magnet, was on the team in the 1960s.

Richardson, I was told, was so good that he'd been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics.

I'm no scout, and had never seen Richardson, who I was told still hangs out in Cotuit in the summer and catches Kettleers games, perform in anything other than street clothes. But I can't say the guy ever struck me as pro athlete material.

But I Googled him when I got home and found references to Richardson's being picked by the A's and being headed for the Majors before injuries derailed his baseball dreams and sent him into a political career.

In one profile about his days playing with Cotuit, Richardson uses the old "boast-disguised-as-self-deprecation" tool that all good politicians have at the ready, treating the interviewer for a small New England publication to a remembrance of the time that future New York Yankees great Thurman Munson jacked a monster home run off him during a Cape Cod League game.

Well, Richardson's been in the headlines lately for an investigation into allegedly peddling his influence for campaign contributions.

And if nothing else comes out of the inquiry, my lack of faith in the politico's athletic potential has already been confirmed: Richardson, amid the blood-in-the-water convergence of media types since he withdrew his name from consideration for a cabinet post in the Obama administration, has been forced to admit that the baseball draft portion of his bio is phony.

An investigation into Richardson's baseball claims by the Albuquerque Journal uncovered that the only source for all the A's stories was the governor himself.

When confronted with the fact that no evidence to confirm his oft-told tale exists, Richardson gave as pathetic a confession as possible: "After being notified of the situation and after researching the matter," he said, "I came to the conclusion that I was not drafted by the A's."

(Munson died in a plane crash in 1979, so he isn't around to say Richardson never really served him a gopher ball all those years ago on the Cape. Pity.)

Briefly back to Cotuit guys who really were drafted by Major League teams: After leaving the Kettleers in July, Bianucci hit .316 in 31 games with a Rangers rookie league affiliate in Spokane, Wash.

He keeps that up, and he'll never be a governor.

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Comments

  1. #1

    The Boston Globe still has the AP account online:

    Richardson, a right-handed pitcher who played at Tufts University, said he was actively scouted by several major league teams in the 1960s.

    He insisted his name appeared on ''a draft list of some kind" created by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He named team scouts, who he said told him that he ''would or could" be drafted. The scouts have since died.

    Richardson later developed arm trouble, eliminating any possible pro career.

    In the summer of 1967, he played for the amateur Cape Cod League's Cotuit Kettleers. The words ''Drafted by K.C." appear next to his name on a faded team program, the Journal reported.

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2005/11/25/a_baseball_draft_that_wasnt/

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