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Frank Oliver Howard (born August 8, 1936 in Columbus, Ohiomarker), nicknamed "Hondo" and "The Capital Punisher", is a former left and right fielder, coach and manager in Major League Baseball who played most of his career for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Senators/Texas Rangers. One of the most physically intimidating hitters in the sport, he was named the National League's Rookie of the Year in , and went on to lead the American League in home runs and total bases twice each and in slugging average, runs batted in and walks once each. His 382 career home runs were the eighth most by a right-handed hitter when he retired; his 237 home runs in a Washington uniform are a record for any of that city's several franchises, as are his totals of 48 HRs and 340 total bases. His Washington/Texas franchise records of 1,172 games, 4,120 at bats, 246 HRs, 1,141 hits, 701 RBI, 544 runs, 155 doubles, 2,074 total bases and a .503 slugging average have variously been broken by Jim Sundberg, Toby Harrah and Juan González.


Los Angeles

Howard was an All-American in both basketball and baseball at Ohio Statemarker, and was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors of the NBA. Listed at 6'8" and 275 pounds, he instead signed with the Dodgers organization, and after a handful of appearances in and 1959 he succeeded Carl Furillo as Los Angeles' right fielder in 1960; he was named the Minor League Player of the Year in 1959 by The Sporting News after hitting 43 homers in the Pacific Coast League. He was named the NL's Rookie of the Year after batting .268 with 23 home runs and 77 RBI, and was nicknamed "Hondo" by teammates after a John Wayne film. He belted 98 homers in the following four seasons, most prominently in a campaign in which he batted .296 with 31 home runs and finished among the NL's top five players in RBI (119) and slugging (.560). The season ended with the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants tied for first place, necessitating a three-game pennant playoff; Howard had only a single in 11 at bats and struck out three times against Billy Pierce in the first game, including the final out; but he had a run and an RBI in the second contest, an 8–7 win. The Giants took the pennant in three games, but Howard would later finish ninth in the MVP voting.

In his production dropped off to a .273 average, 28 homers and 64 RBI; but the Dodgers won the pennant, and his upper-deck solo home run off Whitey Ford broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning of Game 4 of the World Series, helping Los Angeles to a 2–1 win and a sweep of the New York Yankees. He again hit over 20 home runs in , and on June 4 his three-run home run in the seventh inning provided all the scoring in Sandy Koufax's third no-hitter, a 3–0 defeat of the Philadelphia Phillies; Howard had also homered for the final run in Koufax's first no-hitter on June 30 two years earlier, a 5–0 win over the New York Mets. But the team's 1962 move into spacious Dodger Stadiummarker did not favor power hitters, and their speedier outfielders Tommy and Willie Davis were seen as more in line with the club's future; Howard's .226 batting average in 1964—combined with regularly high strikeout totals—led to his trade to Washington in a seven-player December deal which brought Claude Osteen to Los Angeles. In 2005 Howard recalled welcoming the trade despite going from a pennant contender to a weak expansion team, noting, "I was essentially a fourth outfielder in L.A., hitting 25 home runs a year in the biggest baseball park in America and doing it on 400 at-bats." He added, "What could I do if I get 550 at-bats? I had my best years here."


Shifted to left field in Washington, he was unquestionably the center of the offense, leading the team in homers and RBI in each of his seven seasons there. But under managers Gil Hodges, Jim Lemon and Ted Williams, the Senators were a woeful bunch, achieving only one winning season in that time. In 1967 he hit 36 homers, third in the AL behind Harmon Killebrew and Carl Yastrzemski, as he entered the peak years of his career. During an amazing one-week stretch in the spring of (May 12–18), Howard hammered 10 home runs in 20 at bats, with at least one in six consecutive games; his 10 home runs are also the most ever in one week. He would go on to hit 13 homers in 16 games, a mark that would stand until Albert Belle matched it in . Howard finished the season leading the AL with 44 HR, a .552 slugging average and 330 total bases, and was second to Ken Harrelson with 106 RBI; he made his first of four consecutive All-Star teams, and placed eighth in the MVP balloting, although the Senators finished in tenth (last) place with a 65–96 record.

Howard wore #9 on his jersey from the time he joined the Senators through 1968. When new owner Bob Short signed Hall of Fame slugger Williams to manage the club, Howard happily gave up #9 so Williams could wear it once again; Howard donned #33 for the start of the 1969 season. Williams played a major role in teaching him to be more patient at the plate, asking the slugger, "Can you tell me how a guy can hit 44 home runs and only get 48 bases on balls?" He encouraged Howard to not swing at the first fastball he saw, and work the pitcher deeper into the count; the advice resulted in his walk totals nearly doubling. Beginning in 1968, Howard played semi-regularly at first base in order to reduce the physical impact of patrolling the outfield. In 1969 he had career highs with 48 homers (Killebrew was the home run champion with 49), 111 runs (second in the AL to Reggie Jackson), a .296 batting average and a .574 slugging mark, and the Senators had their best year with an 86–76 record though they finished far behind the Baltimore Orioles in the Eastern Division. He again led the AL with 340 total bases, the most ever by a Washington player, and added 111 RBI; his fourth-place finish in the MVP vote was the highest of his career. In he led the AL both in HR (44) and RBI (126); his 132 walks in that year also topped the league, and remain a franchise record. On September 2, he received three intentional walks from Sam McDowell—two of them to lead off an inning. He came in fifth in the 1970 MVP race, and received one first-place vote.

Howard is one of three players (along with Killebrew and Cecil Fielder) to have hit a ball onto the left-field roof at Tiger Stadiummarker. He has also been reported to be the only player ever to hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadiummarker (it was ruled a foul ball, but Yankee outfielder Bobby Murcer later said it was fair). In a game at Fenway Parkmarker, he hit a line drive which struck the center field wall 390 feet from home plate and bounced into Reggie Smith's glove before Howard had even reached first base. During his National League days, Howard also crushed a ball an estimated 560 feet at Pittsburgh's Forbes Fieldmarker.

Howard hit the last regular-season home run for the Senators in RFK Stadiummarker in his final at bat on September 30, 1971 off Yankees pitcher Mike Kekich, who delivered a 2–0 fastball requested by New York manager Ralph Houk; Howard reportedly thanked catcher Thurman Munson when he crossed home plate. After waving to the cheering fans, Howard tossed his helmet liner into the stands, and after the game called it the biggest thrill of his career.

Later years

The Senators moved to Dallas/Fort Worth in , becoming the Texas Rangers, but Howard batted only .244 with 9 HR's in 95 games before his contract was sold to the Detroit Tigers in August; he had just one home run in 33 games for Detroit, and did not appear in the postseason for the division champions. He ended his major league career in with a .256 average and 12 home runs for the Tigers, playing as their designated hitter. Unable to find a job in the majors, in Howard signed to play in Japanmarker's Pacific League for the Taiheiyo Lions. In his first time at bat for his new team, he swung mightily and struck out, hurting his back; he never played again.

In 16 seasons, Howard was a .273 career hitter with a .499 slugging average, 382 home runs and 1,119 RBI in 1,895 games. His lifetime marks included 864 runs, 1,774 hits, 245 doubles, 35 triples, eight stolen bases and a .352 on base percentage; his 1,460 strikeouts were then the fifth highest total in major league history. Jim Sundberg surpassed his Senators/Rangers franchise totals for career games, at bats and doubles in and ; Toby Harrah broke his marks for runs and hits in and ; and Juan González broke his records for home runs, RBI, total bases, and slugging average in and .

Following his retirement as a player, Howard managed the San Diego Padres in 1981 but finished in last place in both halves of the strike-marred season. With the Mets, he took over as manager for the last 116 games in after George Bamberger resigned, but again finished in last place. He posted a 93–133 career managerial record. He also coached for the Milwaukee Brewers (1977–80, 1985–86), Mets (1982–83, 1994–96), Seattle Mariners (1987–88), Yankees (1989, 1991–92), and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998–99). Since 2000 he has worked for the Yankees as a player development instructor.

On April 14, 2005, baseball came back to Washington. In 1972 Howard had thought that before much time had passed, another President would deliver the opening-day pitch in the capital. Looking back, he remarked, "I thought that within five years it would be back. Well, 34 years later, here we are." Before the game at RFK Stadium between the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks, Howard walked out to left field and was greeted by a loud ovation during pregame ceremonies which featured players from both former Senators clubs. At age 68, Howard joked, "I know I'm going to left field—if I can make it that far without having a coronary. I used to be able to sprint out there but don't even know if I'll be able to jog. I told Brinkman, 'For crissakes, call 911 if I have a blowout in left field.'"

He now helps raise money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.


  • Named Player of the Month for July 1962 (.856 slugging and 41 RBI)
  • He struck out a record six consecutive times in a July 9, 1965 doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. After grounding into a double play to end the streak, he jokingly noted, "The only guy to make eight outs in seven at-bats and finally get a standing ovation for it."
  • Howard tended to "hold out" during the early part of spring training, "for more money"—or so he said with a grin. Everyone in the organization knew the real reason; Howard hated spring training and did not like having to run laps to get in shape. He would wait until the last possible moment and report, sign his contract, and was always ready come opening day.
  • Howard made a commercial for Nestle's Quik, a chocolate powder to add to milk. An opposing player saw him drink a glass of it before a game and taunted him with "Nestle's Quik Boy". The player turned out to be the team's catcher, and jeered Frank, at bat, with "Don't hit the ball too hard now, Nestle's Quik Boy!" Frank hit the first pitch out of the park. When he touched home plate, the catcher greeted him and asked, "Hey Frank! How long have you been drinking Nestle's Quik?" Frank said, tweaking the guy's cheek, "Since I was about your size!"
  • Attended South High School in Columbus, Ohio. A prominent baseball player, Howard also started at center for the South basketball team, leading them to the Class A State Championship basketball game in 1954.
  • Howard had six children; three girls and three boys. Frank lived in Wisconsin when he was off season. This is where his wife Carol was from.
  • Frank's youngest boy, Mitchell had three children - the eldest of which serves in the United States Air Force.

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