Richardson, Dot (1961—)
Richardson, Dot (1961—)
American Olympic softball player and orthopedic surgeon . Born Dorothy Richardson on September 22, 1961; daughter of Ken Richardson (an Air Force mechanic) and Joyce Richardson; graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles; University of Louisville, M.D.; Adelphi University, master's degree in exercise and physical health.
Named the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) player of the decade (1989); member of the U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning softball team (1996, 2000).
Born in 1961, Florida native Dorothy "Dot" Richardson was the fourth of five children of Ken and Joyce Richardson. She grew up in various locations around the United States and abroad while her father was employed as a mechanic for the U.S. Air Force. As a child, Richardson was well coordinated and very quick, a natural athlete who loved sports. She played with the Little League in her home state of Florida, but moved up to an adult women's team, the Union Park Jets, by age ten. At 13, Richardson joined the Orlando Rebels to become the youngest member of a women's softball team in a major fast-pitch league. She joined the U.S. women's national team in 1979, while still in high school. Between 1986 and 1996, the women's national team won three World championships, achieving a record of 110 wins and a single loss. The team also won gold medals at the Pan American Games in 1979, 1987, 1995, and 1999.
In 1980, Richardson enrolled at Western Illinois University, where she displayed a recordsetting batting average of .480 in college women's competition. The following year, she transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where she continued her undergraduate curriculum in premedical studies and qualified three times as an all-American in women's softball. In 1983, she was a co-winner with Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the UCLA All University Athlete Award.
After graduating from UCLA, Richardson entered the University of Louisville Medical School, where she specialized in orthopedic surgery. In order to train and compete with the 1996 U.S. Olympic team for the debut of the women's fast-pitch softball competition, Richardson, who was in residency at the University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles, requested and was granted a one-year leave of absence from her medical duties. Playing with her on the U.S. national team at the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, were teammates Lisa Fernandez, Michele Smith, Michele Granger, Kim Maher , and Sheila Cornell . Richardson, who played in the decisive game of the softball competition despite suffering a ruptured disc, hit the winning home run to score a 3–1 victory over the Chinese national team, winning a gold medal for the United States.
After the Olympics, Richardson signed a deal to endorse a line of sports equipment and returned to medicine. In 1997, she published her autobiography, Living the Dream, with sports journalist Don Yaeger. That same year, she received the Babe Didrikson Zaharais Award for female athlete of the year. Now an orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles as well as one of the best softball players in the game, Richardson was inducted into the Florida Hall of Fame in 1999. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, she and her teammates on the U.S. women's softball team beat Australia 1–0 in the bronze medal game and went on to beat Japan 2–1, again winning the gold medal.
People Weekly. June 24, 1996, pp. 81–82; August 19, 1996, p. 47; August 25, 1997, p. 35.
Publishers Weekly. December 30, 1996, p. 18.
Time. April 29, 1996, p. 34.
Gloria Cooksey , freelance writer, Sacramento, California