Frank Howard, Larger-Than-Life Slugger, Dies at 87

Photo: Instagram/Frank Howard

Frank Howard, a legendary figure in the world of baseball and a towering presence in Washington's baseball history, passed away at the age of 87.

The Washington Nationals announced his death on Monday, marking the end of an era for baseball fans. Though Howard never led the Washington Senators to the postseason, he made a lasting impact during his time with the club from 1965 to 1971.

He was a four-time All-Star, received two top-5 finishes in MVP voting, and clinched two home run titles. Standing at an imposing 6-foot-7 and weighing over 250 pounds during his prime, he earned nicknames such as "The Capital Punisher" and "The Washington Monument" for his awe-inspiring home runs, including a 500-foot shot at RFK Stadium in 1970.

Photo: Instagram/Frank Howard

He concluded his career with 382 home runs, leading the Majors with 44 in 1968 and the American League with 44 in 1970. Mark D. Lerner, Nationals managing principal owner, paid tribute, saying, "Growing up a baseball fan in Washington D.C., Frank Howard was my hero.

The towering home runs he hit into the stands at RFK Stadium gave him the nickname 'Capital Punisher,' but I’ll always remember him as a kind and gentle man. The world of baseball has truly lost a giant."

Frank Howard had the opportunity to pursue a career in the NBA but chose baseball, ultimately making a significant impact. He was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1960 and helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win a World Series title in 1963.

After a trade to the Washington Senators in 1964, Howard became a beloved figure in Washington, achieving incredible feats. In May 1968, he smashed an astonishing 10 home runs in 20 at-bats, setting a record that still stands for the most home runs in one week. Jim Riggleman, former Nationals manager, noted, "He kept baseball relevant in D.C. during those years."

Frank Howard's career in Washington concluded in 1972 as the team moved to Texas and became the Rangers. He finished his Major League career with the Detroit Tigers in 1973 and played one season in Japan with the Taiheiyo Club Lions in 1974 before an injury ended his playing days.

Following his playing career, Howard ventured into coaching, contributing to various teams throughout the 1980s and '90s. He even had two managerial stints with the Padres and Mets in 1981 and '83, respectively.

In 2016, the Nationals honored Frank Howard by adding his name to the Ring of Honor at Nationals Park, placing him alongside legendary figures like Jackie Robinson and Frank Robinson. It was a fitting tribute to a man who had once been the most feared slugger in the game.

Frank Howard's legacy will continue to resonate in the hearts of baseball fans and in the annals of Washington's rich baseball history.

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Source: MLB

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