Richardson wasn't shy about sharing the Gospel with Mantle, his teammate for his entire 11-year career.
In many ways, he was one of Mantle's closest friends on the Yankees, even though Mantle resisted coming to Christ during his playing days and most of his life. Still, his Yankee teammates would overhear the two talk about God and other spiritual matters and would often comment on the matter.
"They would kid him in the dugout," Richardson said. "They would ask him, 'Hey Mickey, accepted Christ as your Savior yet?' And he'd say, 'No, but I'm working on it,' or something like that."
Richardson was a relentless witness. Faithfully praying for Mantle, he would invite him down to Sumter and to the University of South Carolina (where he coached baseball from 1970-1976, including the World Series runner-up team in '75) to putting on batting clinics.
But Richardson always felt eternity at stake and surrounded Mantle with as much essence of the Lord as possible. "I would either talk to him or put someone with him who was a really good witness," Richardson said. "And the Lord just used that. And really it was Pete Maravich who God used in the end."
Richardson suspects it was a Christian testimonial tape from basketball star Pete Maravich that convicted Mantle once and for all to give his life to the Lord.
According to Richardson, Mantle called him from the hospital after a liver transplant, saying, "I'm really hurting" and Richardson prayed with him over the phone. Shortly afterward, Richardson visited Mantle, who was also suffering from liver cancer, and as soon as Richardson stepped into his Dallas hospital room, Mantle couldn't wait to tell him the good news: He had accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. Mantle even quoted John 3:16 to Richardson, who made sure Mantle understood the decision.
Mantle, 64, died shortly after on Aug. 13, 1995, and Richardson gave the eulogy at his funeral, which included a clear Gospel presentation.
"But if Mick could hold a press conference from where he is today, I know that he would introduce you to his true hero," said Richardson, according to the transcript of his funeral. "The one who died in his place to give him not just a longer physical life but everlasting life, his Savior, Jesus Christ."
Have a blessed evening. N.