Baseball legend Frank Howard, left, with Athlete of the Month winner Will Schuler, coach Rusty Rhodes, lacrosse winner Margaret Nealon and Bishop Ireton Athletic Director Bill Simmons.
Alexandria He took the field with the likes of Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Ray Campanella. But Frank Howard didn't just play with baseball's finest, he was one of them, winning National League Rookie of the Year honors in 1960 and appearing in four All Star games for the American League from 1968 to 1971. On April 17, the former Washington Senator and Los Angeles Dodger spoke at the Alexandria Sportsman's Club and recounted some of the most memorable moments of his career.
“I'll never forget the best standing ovation I ever received,” said Howard to a standing room only crowd at the Old Dominion Boat Club. “It was during a doubleheader up at Fenway Park. I even set a major league record that day — in 145 years of Major League Baseball I was the only guy to make eight outs in seven at-bats, six of them strikeouts. I got the best standing ovation ever for an opposing player, although it's not exactly the kind of record I was hoping for,” he added with a laugh.
Howard, who won a World Series with the Dodgers in 1963, played 16 seasons in the major leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Senators / Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers and was on hand to help present the ASC Athlete of the Month awards.
Awards were presented to Bishop Ireton lacrosse team captain Margaret Nealon and Little League 2011 Sportsman of the Year winner Will Schuler.
“We have the greatest young people in athletics in the world,” Howard said of American sports. “And it starts in communities like this.”
Howard answered several questions from the audience, including one asking him to name the best managers he played for during his career.
“I was very blessed with the managers that I had,” said Howard, who still holds the record for most home runs in a Washington uniform at 237. “Billy Martin, Ted Williams, Gil Hodges. What success we had in baseball we owe it to those men.”
Howard especially liked Martin because “he liked old players and brought us all back” when he was coaching in Detroit.
“But you don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know that your days are numbered when you are 38 years old,” Howard said. “Still, I thought I was going to go out in style when I was called in to pinch hit for Eddie Brinkman with two men on base and no outs in a game at Tigers Stadium. I hit a fastball that I thought was a bullet into left field. But this third baseman comes out of nowhere and before I knew it, I made three outs with one swing of the bat. Thanks to Brooks Robinson, I got my walking papers the next day.”
And as he did in Fenway Park, Howard brought the ODBC crowd to its feet.