J.R. Richard, remember? The once overpowering right-hander is moving up--from Florida Instructional League to Class A Florida State League.

He told Houston Astros officials, after his first competitive pitching since his stroke of July 1980, that he wanted assignment to Triple-A. In Sarasota "extended spring training," he went 3-2, ERA 3.38, 27 hits, 21 walks, 28 strikeouts in 32 innings.

"I feel good. I want to go to Tucson and start," said Richard. But G.M. Al Rosen and a doctor had last say: the gradual way.

As the once exciting June 15 trading deadline passed--reduced to virtually nil by contract guarantees, impending free agencies, etc.--Rosen said it too for most of the would-be traders. He tried at the owners meeting in Chicago to "go really big in terms of what we might give up" for a good right-handed hitter, but no. Oh well, "We still can make deals if both clubs obtain waivers" . . . And one more thing, he declared, "The reason for our problems is not the manager." Good luck, Bill Virdon . . .

Untraded Pirate Dave Parker--sore wrist and all--jibed that the couple of swaps that were made sent two blacks out of Pittsburgh (Eddie Solomon, Bill Robinson) and brought in two whites (Jim Morrison, Wayne Nordhagen). "Hey, Howie," Parker joshed (?) scout Howie Haak, "see what happens when you shoot your mouth off in the papers (about racial composition and Pirate attendance)? Two brothers go down the tubes."

Will Cloney, 70, retired last night after 18 years as president of the Boston Athletic Association and 36 as director of Boston's BAA Marathon--the marathon. He cited poor health, but BAA counsel affirmed the common knowledge that the controversy over the April annual's burgeoning commercial sponsorship drove Cloney out. "Through the years, I have tried my utmost to preserve the grace and dignity of a great event," he said last night. Now, "goodbye gracefully" . . .

New coaches: Orval Tessier introduced by Chicago Black Hawks. At 49 up from a career mostly in junior ranks, but last from guiding Hawks' New Brunswick club to AHL title, lauded by G.M. Bob Pulford as the "one person in our system" proven up to the job . . . Red Miller, coach and g.m. of U.S. Football League's Denver Gold (colors: black and gold). More credibility for USFL spring '83 debut. Miller had NFL Broncos in Super Bowl five seasons ago . . .

A Denver hitch: Red McCombs' pending purchase of NBA Nuggets only "a 50-50 chance," he says back home in San Antonio; cites misunderstanding over city's lease terms for continued use of McNichols Arena . . . In Kansas City, three friends of major owner Leon Karosen are reported set to buy 50 percent of the NBA Kings.

The Dave Cowens basketball comeback could be for real, to quote Celtics G.M. Red Auerbach: "He says he wants to give it a shot again, and he'll get more than a shot. If he says he's coming back, he's coming back" . . . And Bill Walton, says Clippers Coach Paul Silas, "told me . . . he would like to play again. If it's true, I'll take him to camp" . . .

Whatever happened to: Del Wilber, ex-catcher on Ted Williams' Senators coaching staff? Returns here, from Longmeadow, Mass., to be v.p. marketing/sales for ProServ, Donald Dell's firm . . . Del Unser, ex-Senator cut by the Phillies? Transfers enthusiasm to business in California--a venture with "semisoft" baseballs for youth leagues . . .

Lombardi Memorial Golf and Tennis Tournament, coming up Monday at Indian Spring, is $50,000 beyond goal of $250,000 for cancer research center at Georgetown. After-play program will see John David Burke Award, in memory of a GU football star struck down young, go posthumously to Andrew Clark Jr., Surrattsville athlete who died similarly last week, 3 1/2 months since he addressed the Touchdown Club as honored guest and dedicatee of Bill Mayhugh's leukemia radiothon.