Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#350 Frank Howard

Offensive force of the farewell edition of expansion Washington Senators franchise...yet 1971 was a prelude to quickly fading star....a gentle giant at 6’7” except when he swung the bat....violence personified at the plate; pitchers, infielder, even own teammates on the base path had to be wary of his liners...the counter attack to power pitchers of the era like Sam McDowell....Hard to believe the story began in Los Angeles in LA Dodger Blue....two cups of coffee in 1958-9 were rewards for exceptional farm team numbers....made of first full early call up hitting 24 belts and collecting Rookie of the Year award...Press tabbed him as the threat to Babe Ruth’s record....unrealistic given the pro pitching philosophy of Dodger Stadium....Managed 123 home runs in Dodger blue...took his heavy bat to DC and career bloomed into power machine and brief glimpse of predicted superstar status....would get on history home run streaks....prime was 1968-70 when he led junior circuit in home runs twice and second by the narrowest of margin in the other....Got better under Ted William flirting with a .300 BA....slugged the first homer for Texas but that’s about it for highlights in Arlington....hitting was about in line with the meager Ranger attack....bat being nothing special his lumbering frame was becoming a liability in the field....very late in 1972 sold to Tigers....too late for ALCS....poised for comeback to take advantage of newly minted DH rules in 1973 eliminated position play....never materialized and was caught up in the numbers game as new guy in town in a team aged vets looking for work...released at conclusion of season....exodus to Japan, played in one game got hurt....afterwards did a lot of coaching in many locales...also tried hand at MLB managing but hampered by bad teams and "too nice" persona.....lived many years in Green Bay Wisconsin where he once was a minor leaguer....know as Hondo also known “The Horse” to LA teammate Bob Lillis to whom Howard retorted calling Lillis “The Flea”....did many commercial endorsements in prime emphasizing his size and strength.

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