February 23rd, 2012

February 23 – Happy Birthday Elston Howard

I was a huge Elston Howard fan when I was a kid. He never seemed to get the amount of media attention accorded to his more famous Yankee teammates but he certainly got the attention of Yankee opponents. In 1961 he hit .348, a ridiculously high average for an everyday big league catcher. In 1962 he drove in 91 runs from the six-hole of the Yankee lineup. In 1963, he was selected the AL MVP and in 1964 he played in 150 games, hit .313 and was named to his seventh consecutive AL All Star team.

The Yankees were slow to integrate their team, waiting till 1956 to do it with Howard, who by then was already 26 years old. Compounding Ellie’s delayed development was a Yankee roster loaded with talent and his first Yankee manager, Casey Stengel’s platoon system, which combined to relegate Howard to less than 375 at bats in five of his first six big league seasons.

It wasn’t until Ralph Houk replaced Stengel in 1961 that Howard became a full-time part of the Yankee lineup and by then, he was already 32 years old. Give him those 450 at bat seasons beginning when he was 22 or 23 and Howard would have hit closer to 300 lifetime home runs instead of 167, he’d have easily added perhaps 700 more hits to his career total of 1,471, he’d have seven world series rings instead of four and perhaps he’d be in Cooperstown today.

This former Yankee outfielder  and this one too, also celebrate birthdays on today’s date.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1955 NYY 97 306 279 33 81 8 7 10 43 0 20 36 .290 .336 .477 .812
1956 NYY 98 316 290 35 76 8 3 5 34 0 21 30 .262 .312 .362 .674
1957 NYY 110 381 356 33 90 13 4 8 44 2 16 43 .253 .283 .379 .663
1958 NYY 103 406 376 45 118 19 5 11 66 1 22 60 .314 .348 .479 .827
1959 NYY 125 475 443 59 121 24 6 18 73 0 20 57 .273 .306 .476 .783
1960 NYY 107 361 323 29 79 11 3 6 39 3 28 43 .245 .298 .353 .651
1961 NYY 129 482 446 64 155 17 5 21 77 0 28 65 .348 .387 .549 .936
1962 NYY 136 538 494 63 138 23 5 21 91 1 31 76 .279 .318 .474 .791
1963 NYY 135 531 487 75 140 21 6 28 85 0 35 68 .287 .342 .528 .869
1964 NYY 150 607 550 63 172 27 3 15 84 1 48 73 .313 .371 .455 .825
1965 NYY 110 418 391 38 91 15 1 9 45 0 24 65 .233 .278 .345 .623
1966 NYY 126 451 410 38 105 19 2 6 35 0 37 65 .256 .317 .356 .673
1967 TOT 108 345 315 22 56 9 0 4 28 0 21 60 .178 .233 .244 .478
1967 NYY 66 216 199 13 39 6 0 3 17 0 12 36 .196 .247 .271 .518
14 Yrs 1605 5846 5363 619 1471 218 50 167 762 9 373 786 .274 .322 .427 .749
NYY (13 yrs) 1492 5488 5044 588 1405 211 50 161 733 8 342 717 .279 .324 .436 .760
BOS (2 yrs) 113 358 319 31 66 7 0 6 29 1 31 69 .207 .279 .285 .564
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/1/2014.