This Day in Baseball History: August 3rd, 1967

Often forgotten star of the game.

On August 3, 1973:

Elston Howard is traded to the Boston Red Sox.

Count Elston Howard as one of those players who has played for both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1929, Howard was a fantastic athlete (you know, I want to meet the professional baseball player who wasn’t a great athlete), and several Big Ten schools offered him scholarships. Howard, however, decided to play in the Negro Leagues with Ernie Banks and the Kansas City Monarchs in 1948. Two years later, the Yankees signed Howard, but Howard’s career would be detoured to Korea when he was drafted into the Army.

Howard got a late start to his career as he didn’t play in the majors until he was 26. When he did make his debut in 1955, he became the first African-American Yankee, but the new Yankee catcher had another obstacle to his playing time — Yogi Berra. From 1950-1957, Berra never finished below 4th in the MVP voting, and Howard wasn’t going to displace him immediately. So he spent most of his early career in the outfield. In 1960, the two switched places and shared time at catcher, but by the following season, Howard would become the primary catcher.

In reality, Howard was only 4 years younger than Berra, but the past few seasons had saved his legs to take over for Berra. 1961 was actually Howard’s best season (OPS+ of 153 — a career high), but after a fantastic 1963, Howard won his only MVP Award. But those weren’t his only good seasons. From 1957 to 1963, he made every All-Star team except the first 1959 game (remember, there were 2 All-Star games from 1959-1962). But Howard was also good with the glove and won 2 Gold Glove Awards as a catcher in 1963 and 1964.

Despite that early success, Howard was pretty much done by 1965, and in 1967, the Yankees traded him to the Boston Red Sox. He didn’t hit well down the stretch, but the Red Sox insisted that his defense and pitch-calling were worth it. Howard’s last memorable moment was his 1967 Game 5 of the World Series hit that put the Red Sox over the Cardinals. Unfortunately for him, the Cardinals and former teammate Roger Maris won the World Series in 7 games.

Trivia Time
Name the only 2 AL catchers with a higher SLG than Howard’s career .427.

Friday’s Answer –> August 12, 1987 (only slightly a trick question).


3 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: August 3rd, 1967”

  1. Dan Says:

    Fisk and Berra?

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    One of two.

  3. Ron Rollins Says:

    Berra and Triandos.

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