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Who is Bill "The Book" Richardson?

by Chuck Stensrud

We were in a GSR club meeting discussing potential speakers for our 2004 seminar and auction when someone suggested "Book " Richardson. I thought to myself; "Who is that?". Before I could speak out loud, someone else asked the question for me. Rett Finch answered the question: "He is not very well known in the Midwest but he is from Arizona, is a well know authority on eye sign and is a respected pigeon grader." Then someone else asked the second question that had come to my mind: "Why do they call him The Book?" The same individual answered this question also: "Because he is said to be a walking encyclopedia on racing pigeon facts. They just call him Book for short." After additional discussion, it was agreed that we would contact Book and see if he would be interested in being our seminar speaker. Rett contacted him and Book agreed to come.

Some weeks after the arrangements with Book had been made, I was advised that at a certain time Book was going to be logged into the chat room on our GSR web site. I decided to log in and participate in the chat. After initial introductions, we started asking eye sign questions of Book and instead of answering our questions like we expected, he was responding with "What do you think?", or some other question like that. This kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I thought to myself; "What kind of a guy is this?". I found myself wondering if that was how he would respond to questions put to him at our upcoming seminar, and if so, perhaps we had made a mistake. I was forming an unfavorable opinion of the man.

As the date for our seminar drew closer, we were fine tuning the details of the seminar and auction. When we were scheduling who was going to be picking Book up at the airport, driving him to the various fanciers who had arranged for him to grade their pigeons, I was asked if I wanted him to grade my pigeons. I really did not schedule any time for me to spend with him, nor did I arrange for him to grade my pigeons. I was too busy attending to last minute details for the seminar and auction. Finally, the night before the big event came. We all gathered to perform the setup for the seminar and auction and I was able to meet Book in person. I had made up my mind that I was not going to like this guy, but boy was I wrong. I started thinking that maybe I could like him after all. He was a very pleasant and knowledgeable guy.

As we worked with the setup, I had an opportunity to ask questions of the guys who had Book grade their birds that day. They all told me they were impressed. He knew his stuff. One of our members, Mark Spurgeon, had picked Book up at the airport and had spent most of the day with him. Mark told me that Book walked into his loft, took a quick look around at the birds and without handling any of them pointed to a young BB cock and said "That bird is your best racer." Mark caught the bird and handed it to Book. Book then examined the bird and told Mark the bird was flawless and should be set aside for breeding. The bird had just finished the YB season and had won 1st @ 134m vs 199b & 15L, 1st @ 181m vs 161b & 15L, 1st @ 225m vs 232b & 16L, and 4th @ 181m vs 193b & 16L. In addition, the bird won Champion YB and Bird of the Year for Old & Young combined. Pretty good job, Book.

The next day at our seminar, Book was introduced, and began his presentation on "Eye Sign & Breeding". None of us had seen or heard his presentation before. We did not know what to expect. From the very beginning, I sensed that this was not going to be the same old story we had been hearing about eyesign for years. This guy had actually dissected the eyes of racing pigeons and had a scientific explanation of what it was we are seeing when we gaze into these pretty little pigeon eyes. He explained the part the characteristics of the eye played in making the bird a superior performer. When he completed the presentation segment on the physical makeup of the eyes, he proceeded to explain the role of certain eyes and eye characteristics in the breeder. He not only presented his theories but was able to back them up with statistical proof. This guy is a thinker with an inquisitive and scientific mind.

When his presentation was over, I knew it had been a success. Our guests were seizing the opportunity to chat with him about his views on various aspects of the sport. Some of our members that had him grade some of their birds the day before were bringing him more birds to grade. How I wished that I had not been "too busy" to have time to spend with him. Too late, I realized I had missed a very rare opportunity to have my birds graded by someone as knowledgeable as Book. Hopefully, he will be in the area again and this time I will not miss my opportunity.