Richards, Hank (2004)
Henry “Hank” Richards II didn’t live his life in strict accordance with the fashion axiom “clothes make the man.” But his preparation on game day included more than a study of scouting reports.
After his playing and coaching days, Richards became a respected umpire. It was a responsibility that identified naturally with his unabashed passion for baseball and reinforced an unstated penchant for having everything “dressed to the right and covered down.”
His son, Hank Richards III frames the memory this way:“He traveled around the state wherever Rocky Bridges needed him,” said Richards. “] can still remember when he came home with his new equipment. He was like a kid in a candy store.”
“After every game, he would come home, get the black shoe polish out and shine up his shoes for the next game. His pants would be neatly pressed with a crease - as well as his shirt - making sure his umpire patch could be seen.
“As he would always say, ‘If you dress like an athlete, you play like an athlete.”
Henry “Hank” Richards II started dressing and playing like an athlete at South Portland High where he was a three-sport star in football, basketball and baseball 1953-1957.
A question his son, Hank Richards III is often asked is, “Are you related to Hank Richards from South Portland? Man, could he hit a baseball!”
Richards’ skill in football and baseball earned him a scholarship to play both sports at the University of Delaware for two years. Returning to Maine, he took a year off from school before enrolling at the University of Maine in 1960. Richards played football for the Black Bears and graduated in 1962.
After college, Richards returned to the Portland area and began a long tenure at Deering High School. He was assistant coach for the Rams under the legendary Fred Harlow, also served as assistant football coach and headed the football program on Stevens Avenue 1967-1975.
Three years at Cheverus followed. Richards was assistant football coach and head baseball coach 1975-1978. After that, he stepped away from coaching to spend more time with his five children.
One of those who remembers Richards is Brian Gordon, longtime athletic director at Deering. Gordon was inducted into Maine’s Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.
“Hank was clearly a professional educator,’ said Gordon.“ He was selected numerous times by the Deering administration to serve in leadership roles. He was supportive, encouraging, open, forthright and honest with students.”
Gordon also knew Richards’ umpiring ability. “In my role as Chairman of the Maine Principals Association's Baseball Committee, I had to tabulate coaches’ votes for umpires to serve in the state playoffs. Hank was always among the top vote getters.”
Tom Conley adds, “He’s done it all. He was real special coaching the boys. They all respected him so much.’