Richard took Thatcher deep … in high school

A fun little story emerged this weekend when it was discovered that Clayton Richard hit a home run off teammate Joe Thatcher in the spring of 2000 when both were playing high school baseball in Indiana.

Here’s the link to the story, which includes the box score from the newspaper and the short story that ran with it.

Here’s the text:

 LOS ANGELES — When pitcher Clayton Richard arrived in San Diego shortly after he was obtained in the Jake Peavy deal, he thought he recognized a familiar face in Padres reliever Joe Thatcher.

As it turns out, the two had played against each other in the spring of 2000, when both were playing high school baseball in Indiana. Thatcher was a senior for Kokomo High, and Richard was a freshman at McCutcheon High in Lafayette.

Richard thought he remembered hitting a home run off Thatcher and told the lefty that recently, but Thatcher brushed it off. So Richard enlisted the help of his old high school coach, Jake Burton, who saved a newspaper clipping from the game in 2000.

“He told me he hit a home run off me,” Thatcher said. “I didn’t believe him.”

On Friday, after his coach faxed the box score and story from the game, Richard showed it — proudly, of course — to Thatcher. Richard was right — he hit a home run and ended up the winning pitcher in a 7-4 McCutcheon victory over Kokomo.

The two schools are separated by 44 miles, and Thatcher and Richard think they played against each other in basketball during that school year as well.

“I was pretty lucky,” Richard said of what was his first home run in high school, which came on a curveball. “I don’t think I had a chance at his fastball.”

As for Thatcher, who was relieved to see he had two hits off Richard during the game in question, the details were still a little hazy to him.

“I didn’t remember it, to tell you the truth,” Thatcher said. “You wouldn’t think a game nine years ago would be brought up in a big league clubhouse.”

Thatcher would go on to play baseball at Indiana State, while Richard was later named Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball for the state of Indiana before accepting a scholarship to play football and baseball at the University of Michigan.

“Its’ really a neat thing if you think about it,” Richard said. “That’s where we both came from. It’s exciting to look back at that.”

Corey Brock, MLB.com

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