First baseman Ryan Howard played his last game for the Phillies on Oct. 2 against the New York Mets in Philadelphia. After playing in the Major Leagues for 13 seasons, Howard is leaving the Phillies after spending his whole career with the team.
Howard, the last remaining member of the 2008 World Series team, prefaced the last game with a farewell address. During the pregame ceremony, Howard gave an emotional speech thanking his teammates and his fans for all they have done.
“I just want to thank you guys, the fans, again for making this all possible. For making it fun,” Howard said. “I want to thank you… [for] giving me the opportunity. This city as a whole, man. I want to thank you because I’ve grown with all of you. My family has grown with all of you.”
During his career with the Phillies, Howard inspired many people with his dedication to the game.
Ryan Givens the pitcher for Cabrini’s men’s baseball team, admires Howard for his skill, saying that “he’s a power hitter with good clubhouse presence, as well as clubhouse leadership.” Givens added that along with performance, he admires Howard for his personal commitments.
“Ryan Howard played with class and was a true example of how an athlete should carry himself both on and off the field,” Givens said. “I loved what he did as an activist for the City of Philadelphia and for his hometown of St. Louis. He was such a great role model for kids to have, and truly lead by example.”
In 2001, Howard was selected by the Phillies in the fifth round of the amateur draft.
During his time playing for the Phillies, he was named the Florida State League MVP in 2003 and the Eastern League MVP in 2004; he was awarded the National League’s MVP Award in 2005, the National League’s MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2006, and the National League’s player of the month in Sept. of 2008; he was also named the MVP of the National League Championship Series in 2009.
He also helped the Phillies win the National League East in 2007, secure the World Series title for the first time in 28 years in 2008, and go to the World Series two consecutive years.
Cabrini catcher Vince Gares believes the Phillies could not have won the World Series without Howard. Gares aid,”He was a huge reason the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, and I believe people tend to forget the success he had due to the recent struggles he’s gone through these past years.”
Howard experienced a few different injuries during his career, but the worst and most consequential was tearing his left Achilles in 2011.
Alex Del Guidice, also a catcher, agrees that the Howard played an important role in the 2008 World Series and hopes people remember that performance and not his more recent games.
“I mean, to be honest, without Howard, I don’t think they ever could have won the World Series. It’s a shame the Achilles injury derailed his career because now we all have to look at it hypothetically instead of seeing it come to fruition.” Del Guidice adds, “I don’t think Howard’s career should be defined by these last couple years but that era in the mid to late 2000s when he was unquestionably the best power hitter in the league.”
Some of Howard’s biggest accomplishments include reaching 100 home runs in 325 games— breaking Ralph Kiner’s record of 385 games; being the second player to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in back-to-back seasons; in Sept. of 2006, he became the 17th Phillies player to homer three times in a single game and set the Phillies record for the most homers in a ssingle season with 58 homers in 2006. He also reached 20 home runs in a season for nine straight seasons, becoming the second Philly to ever do so.
During his Major League Baseball career, Ryan Howard had 1,475 hits, 848 runs, 382 home runs, and 1,194 runs batted in. In his final season he finished with 65 hits, 35 runs, 25 home runs, and 59 runs batted in this season alone.
Ryan Givens will always remember Howard as an amazing member of the Phillies and understands why he left, but hopes to see him again soon.
“I think Ryan Howard leaving the Phillies from a financial view point makes sense,” Givens said. “But I still think he has a lot of baseball left in him and I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs a contract with another team.”