Captain on the Field to Captain of Industry
Oregon Duck Mark Richards (1963-65) Oregon’s high achieving walk-on
ANOTHER IN A SERIES FROM OUR FRIENDS AT MIGHTY OREGON
Next to nose guard George Dames, who was a two-time first team All-Coast honoree in 1967 and 1968, it could safely be said that Mark Richards, a 1961 grad of Cottage Grove High School, is the Ducks’ most honored walk-on.
Richards was a three-year letterman at defensive tackle and offensive guard for Oregon, and in 1964 was selected to the All-Coast first team at guard. Another Cottage Grove Lion, Brent Haberly, was a very good starting linebacker for Oregon. Such players as Joe Reitzug and Wesly Mallard also come to mind when one thinks about outstanding walk-ons. I will not claim to be absolutely certain, but I do not think any other Oregon walk-ons have made first team All-Pac-10 or 12, let alone All Coast.
Richards was a good high school football player and track athlete for the Cottage Grove Lions, but he did not receive any scholarship offers from any major colleges. He decided to walk-on at Oregon and give it a try. “I was a born a Duck,” the son of Norm and Kathleen Richards explained. ”It was the obvious choice.” Richards played on the freshman team in ’61, redshirted in ’62 and started in as a defensive tackle in ’63, and was moved to left offensive guard in ’64 and ’65. Richards was 6-ft, 225-lbs. and he became so good protecting and blocking for first team All-American quarterback Bob Berry, that Mark was selected to the Pac-8’s first team in 1964.
“I had a great team that worked along with me, and without them none of that would have happened. Playing with that guy (Berry) was a real thrill,” said Richards. ”We had two good years (Ducks were 8-3 in ’63 and 7-2-1 in ’64) and I credit a lot of that to Berry. He was one helluva quarterback. He could make something good out of nothing, and nothing can replace that. He was very calm, probably the calmest guy on the field in a tough situation. He’d come into the huddle and say, ‘we’re going to do this and score,’ and often times it would happen. He was a fun guy to play with because he could make it happen and made everyone a believer.”
Richards was also honored by his teammates by being chosen as the team’s co-captain in 1965. Oregon victories against Oregon State were rare in the 1960s. In fact, the Ducks only beat the Beavers one time in 10 meetings from 1960-69. Richards played defense on the Oregon team that defeated the Beavers 31-14 at Hayward Field in 1963. ”That was a long day,” Richards remembers. “I was one pooped puppy when that game was over, but it was a hell of a lot better than the alternative (losing).”
In 1964 the Rose Bowl was the reward for the winner of the Civil War game. The Beavers edged the Ducks 7-6 to earn a trip to Pasadena. “All I remember is we left everything on the field,” said Richards. ”That was tough.” Richards did not go on to play professional football, but graduated from the UO as a math major, and has become a very successful businessman.
In 1970 Mark founded Racor Industries, Inc., which has become the world’s largest producer of diesel fuel filtration systems. Growing to sales of $16 million in 1984, Racor was acquired by Parker Hannifin Corporation in 1985, then a $1.6 billion NYSE Fortune 500 Company. Mark continued as General Manager of the Racor Division through 1986, when he moved to a consulting role in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and founded a real estate development company. Richards is now the President and Chief Executive Officer of Maryl Group, Inc.
From a three-person real estate development company, Maryl Group, Inc. has successfully expanded to become a company of statewide dimension that has earned an enviable reputation over two decades of real estate development, architecture, construction and sales and leasing of master planned communities, commercial centers, and custom residential homes. Richards also currently serves on the University of Oregon’s Board of Trustees and visits the UO about every three months. ”It’s been a wonderful experience, seeing it from an entirely different angle than sports…the educational side. It’s been a lot of fun, and I have a great love for that institution.”
Mighty Oregon is an independent full color magazine dedicated to covering University of Oregon sports. It is available free of charge in the Eugene-Springfield area at the following locations: Dari Marts, Bi Marts, Knechts, Duck Stores and Oregon Sports stores. We publish after every football game and then once per month through June, for a total of 20 issues, and we intend increase our frequency in the near future. A Duck fan can subscribe for $45 (we have to ship first class which costs about $35). To order, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jerry Thompson at 541-221-3154