Ben Lippen Stories

Bobby Richardson: Hall of Fame ’22

Bobby Richardson grew up in Sumter, SC. At the age of 17, Richardson left high school to play minor league baseball. By 19 he was on the field with the New York Yankees and played 12 outstanding seasons with the organization.

The second baseman not only found personal success in the major leagues those 12 seasons, but the Yankees went to the World Series nine times- winning seven –  during his tenure. Richardson played in 30 consecutive World Series games and in 1959 earned MVP honors, the first time the MVP award was given to a player on the losing team.

During his professional career, Richardson also earned five golden gloves, was selected to multiple All-star teams, lead the American League in ’62 in hits, and was runner-up to his friend Mickey Mantle for MVP that same year.

Bobby Richardson was well known as a man of faith who used his platform as a professional athlete to win others to Christ. He has shared in many interviews over the years about the privilege of leading his friend Mickey Mantle to the Lord.

Before retiring in 1966 at only 31 years old, Richardson was honored with “A Day at the Stadium.” At what many would claim as the height of his success, he chose to leave life on the road as a baseball player to enjoy more time with his wife Betsy and their five children. 

After leaving professional ball, Richardson coached at the University of SC for six years. Under his leadership, the team had successful seasons and in 1975 made it to the College World Series Championship (lost the last game).

He left USC in 1976 and was asked by President Ford to run for Congress. He did not win the election, but it provided the space for a new opportunity at a Christian school set in the mountains of Asheville. Headmaster Jack Layman asked Richardson to come to Ben Lippen, and since the school’s missional vision aligned with his values, he moved his family to campus. Ben Lippen had prayed for someone to fill an ambassador role, and Richardson was the answer. He felt it would be a rewarding experience to share the school’s values with others. His children also attended, while Betsy happily served as a mother figure to the missionary kids. He said Betsy believes that those two years living and serving on campus were among the best that the family had shared.

On campus, Richardson was careful not to overstep the current coaching staff, which was excellent in his opinion (his son played baseball for Bob Weeber- another 2022 HOF inductee).  He was very content to serve the baseball team as a pitching and batting practice volunteer. In basketball, he acted as an assistant coach and then stepped into the head coaching role for a season when the school needed it.  Coaching his girls was another rewarding experience.  During the summer, Richardson ran a summer sports camp at BL for 144 children. This camp also holds a special place in the family’s memory since that is where one of his daughters met her future husband.

Ben Lippen strongly emphasized foreign missions, and Richardson is thankful for the impact this had on his own children. His boys had the opportunity for summer missions while at BL and both later became pastors. Another highlight for Richardson was watching his son’s BL soccer team win the NC State Championship. 

After Ben Lippen, Richardson worked for the Aurora Foundation which helped fund Christian missions and schools.  Although he enjoyed the experience, he felt his calling was still in sports. He coached and took on Athletic Director roles at Coastal Carolina and Liberty University.

In 1990, Richardson retired and settled back into life in Sumter SC. He and Betsy enjoy life in their home community and spending time with family and friends.

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