In A New York (Yankees) State of Mind
ON HIS WAY TO LUNCH, Richards stops to chat with a couple of security guards. He seems to know everyone and takes the time to offer a kind word to the people he passes. “I always try to remember when someone is sick and ask them how they’re feeling,” he says. “When I’m not feeling well, I hope they’ll ask how I am.” It’s a simple, yet profound, philosophy modeled by the late Rev. E. Raymond “Padre” Shaheen, special assistant to the university president. “He had time and love for everybody,” Richards says, “and that’s something to emulate, something I try to continue in my own life. It’s like soldiers in battle. When the soldier carrying the flag falls, another one comes and picks it up and keeps going.”
Richards says several other Susquehanna faculty and staff have been influential in his life. The late Victor Rislow, associate professor of music, who taught him trumpet, Professor Emeritus of History Donald Housley and Professor of Political Science James Blessing, are among the faculty he recalls fondly. “I had Dr. Blessing three semesters in a row, but I finally had to stop. I couldn’t take another Blessing final,” he says, shaking his head and smiling.
David Imhoof, associate professor and chair of the Department of History, was especially influential. Richards says Imhoof always encouraged him to step outside his comfort zone. It just took him a little longer to get there than the spring semester of his junior year, when most students embark on cross-cultural experiences. But he’s certainly made up for lost time.
His central Pennsylvania slang and congenial small-town charm can’t hide the fact that, in many ways, he has adapted to New York. From his suspicion of “gypsy cabs” to calling only Manhattan “the city,” Richards is definitely in a New York state of mind, or perhaps more appropriately, a New York Yankees state of mind.
“They’re sports royalty,” Richards says. “Putting on a major league uniform is special, but putting on the pinstripes is at a whole other level.” And Richards has taken the ride back to the top of the heap with the Yankees after their nine year struggle to get there.
Richards stepped out of the museum at nearly midnight on Nov. 4, the night the Yankees made World Series history again. He stood on the main level of Yankee Stadium and watched Phillies hitter Shane Victorino hit a ground ball to second baseman Robinson Cano, who flipped it to Mark Teixeira at first for the final out. “It was so ordinary, just like any one of hundreds of groundouts to second during the season, but so much more meaningful. More than 50,000 people roared at once. The atmosphere was just electric,” Richards says.
“Riding in the World Series parade through Manhattan’s ‘Canyon of Heroes’ two days later was even better,” he says. “To see millions of people cheering and filled with excitement for block after block was breathtaking. I don’t know how many people were there, but it was certainly more than I had ever seen in one place before. It’s a long way from Selinsgrove!”
Victoria Kidd is an assistant director of advancement communications and editor of Susquehanna Currents.