THE NEW YORK TIMES – Frank Howard, the Bunyanesque slugger who struck some of baseball’s more awesome home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Senators while rolling up a prodigious strikeout total as well, unable to conquer his penchant for chasing bad balls, died on Monday in Aldie, Va. He was 87.
His death, at a hospital, was caused by complications of a stroke, his daughter Catherine Braun said.
Listed at 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds — though well above that weight at times — Howard played for 16 seasons in the major leagues and hit 382 homers.
He twice led the American League in that category. Many of his home runs — and even some hits that didn’t clear the fence — were unforgettable.
“As a Dodger in 1960, he hit a ball over the left-field wall at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh that was found alongside a parked car some 560 feet from home plate.”
Batting against Whitey Ford in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series, at the original Yankee Stadium, he hit a drive that landed, in fair territory, just to the left of the monuments to Yankee greats in center field, about 460 feet from home plate. He lumbered only as far as second base in what has been called the longest double in Yankee Stadium history.
In Game 4, he hit a 450-foot homer off Ford into the left-field mezzanine at Dodger Stadium, in a 2-1 victory that completed a Dodger sweep of the Series.
Howard drove in 1,119 runs in his long career. But he also struck out 1,460 times.
A humble muscleman well liked by teammates and friendly to fans, Howard could laugh at his failings.
He once told how the great hitter Ted Williams, who became the Senators’ manager in 1969, helped him show more patience at the plate. Still, Williams couldn’t contain his frustration …