Howard's End?

Sunday, June 10 2007 @ 11:25 PM EDT

Contributed by: Mick Doherty

Howard is one of those names ... as a family name, there's Ron and there's Ken and so many more; as a first name, there's Cosell and Hughes and an even wider variety. And believe it or not, in the world of baseball, even with so many given- and family-named Howards around, the most popular placement for it is as a middle name.

So, as we have witnessed the greatness of Ryan Howard hitting a baseball 700 feet every other day or so for the last year-plus, we find ourselves asking the fateful question ... Howard -- first, middle or last?

Let's find out ...

We'll start with a squad of players made up of those with the given first name of Howard -- that includes several players who were given that first name but who chose to go by something else, including both of our Hall of Famers (the left fielder and the closer) and our manager. So let's meet ...

An ode to Mr. Cosell
** indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star

Player/Manager: Howard "Doc" Edwards (173-207, 1987-89 CLE)

C Howard Wakefield (.248, 1905-07)
1B Howie Schultz (.241, 1943-48; out of MLB at 25)
2B Howie Kendrick (.285, 2006 LAA rookie)
SS Howard Freigau (more at 3B; .272, 1922-28)
3B Howard Johnson* (.249, 228 homers, 1982-95)
LF Howard Earl Averill** (.318, 238 homers, 1929-41)
CF Howard Douglas Baird (went by Doug; .234, 118 SB, 1915-20; also 3B/2B)
RF Howie Fitzgerald (.257, parts of 1922-26)
DH Howard Battle (.243, 1995-96, '99)

C Howard "Doc" Edwards (.238, 1962-65, '70)
UTIL Howie Shanks (all but C; .253, 185 SB, 1912-25)
UTIL Howie Clark (all but CF, C; .273 through 2006)
OF Howie Camp (6-for-21 with 1917 NYY)
OF/2B Howard Early (.248, 1890-91)
2B/1B Howard "Polly" McLarry (.194, mostly with 1915 CHC)

RHSP Howard Ehmke (166-166; 1929 WS hero)
LHSP Howie Pollet* (two 20-win years. '40s STL; 131-119 career)
RHSP Howie Fox (43-72, parts of 1944-54)
LHSP Howard "Lefty" Mills (15-30, parts of 1934-40)
RHSP Howard "Highball" Wilson (14-27, 1899, 1902-04)

CL-RH Howard Bruce Sutter** (300 saves, 1976-88)
LHRP Howard Bailey (6-9, 1981-83 DET)
RHRP Howie Reed (26-29, 9 saves, 1958-71)
RHRP Howie Judson (17-37, 14 saves 1948-54; 1-14, '49 CHW)
RHRP Howie Krist (37-11!, 1937-38, '41-43, '46 STL; 23-3 in '41-42)

First Name Notes ... Well, at least the left side of the diamond looks nice with an All-Star in HoJo at third and a Hall of Famer in Averill playing LF ... Of the more than 20 Howards who didn't make the Cosell cut, the only name you might recognize is that of RHSP Howard Farmer, who was 0-3 with the 1990 Expos -- which should tell you something ... You may assume (correctly) that anyone shown as "Howie" bears the required full first name of "Howard" ... If you don't know Howard Ehmke's World Series story, Google it and hold out hope for your own inevitible twilight years ... Maybe there's a Magpie opus on Ehmke somewhere down the line ...

Now all that said, let's take a look at the next logical step, a team of players who had the given middle name of Howard, even if they chose to go by Howard -- which, upon looking at the roster, never happens. Hmph. Anyway, let's meet ...

An ode to Los Angeles' William Howard Taft High School
** indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star

Player/Manager: Andrew Howard Cohen (1-0, 1960 PHI)

C James Howard Sundberg* (.248, six Gold GLoves, 1974-89)
1B James Howard Thome* (472 homers through 2006)
2B Andrew Howard Cohen (managed one game; .281, 1926, '28-29 NYG)
SS James Howard "Howdy" Caton (.226, 1917-20 PIT)
3B George Howard Brett** (.305, 3154 hits, 317 HR)
LF Patrick Howard McNulty (.290, parts of 1922-27 CLE)
CF Willie Howard Mays** (.302, 660 homers, 12 Gold Gloves)
RF Michael Howard Simms (.247, 1990-99, also 1B)
DH Norman Howard John Larker* (1B/OF, .275, 1958-63)

SS/2B Charles Howard "Chuck" Corgan (.221, 1925, '27 BRK)
SS/2B Robert Howard Sturgeon (.257, 1940-42, '46-68)
UTIL Michael Howard Mordecai (.244 in 12 years; did all but P)
3B/UTIL Jeffrey Howard Cirillo* (.297, 110 homers through 2006)
OF William Howard Sharp (.255, 1973-76)
OF Jesse Howard Altenburg (.290, 1916-17 PIT)

RHSP Donald Howard Sutton** (324-256, 1966-88)
RHSP Joseph Howard Coleman* (142-135, 1965-79; retired at 32)
RHSP Samuel Howard "Howie" Camnitz (133-106, 1904-15; 3-time 20-game winner)
RHSP Paul Howard "Dizzy" Trout* (170-161, 1939-52, '57)
RHSP John Howard "Jack" Fisher (86-139, 1959-69; 8-24 with '65 NYM)

CL-RH Timothy Howard Worrell (48-59, 71 saves through 2006)
LHRP Russell Howard Swan (14-22, 11 saves, 1989-94)
RHRP Allen Howard Conkwright (2-1, 1 save, 1920 DET)
LHRP Timothy Howard Davis (6-5, 1994-97 SEA)
LHRP Lawrence Howard Douglas (1-0 in two games with 1915 FL Balt. Terrapins)

Middle Name Notes ... Sure, the Taft rotation is all-righthanded, but at least there are three lefties down in the bullpen to switch it up a little bit when necessary ... With Brett and Mays in the niddle of the lineup, presumably this team will score some runs ... And with 855 career wins ascribed to the Taft rotation, the pitching should at least be adequate ... Among the 20-plus middle-named Howards who didn't make the Taft roster were a couple of other decent righty starting pitchers in George Howard "Chief" Johnson, who was 40-43 in the 19teens amd Lewis Howard Moren , who was 48-57 in the decade prior to Chief's run ...

With nobody on the roster to serve as a backup catcher, it's a good thing Sunny was known as an iron man in his day, catching at last 140 games (and as many as 155!) each season from 1975-80 ... There was a father/son combination of second basemen named Joseph Howard Berry (Sr. and Jr.) ... Both were essentially cuppajoe infielders, with daddy a career 1-for-4 in his one game with the 1902 Phillies, while Junior doubled up pops in career base hits by going 2-for-6 in 15 games with the 1921-22 New York Giants. At least both Berrys had the good taste to actually go by "Howard" ...

And finally ...

An ode to Ken Howard

** indicates Hall of Famer (none)
* indicates All-Star

Player/Manager: Frank Howard (93-133, 1981 SDP, '83 NYM)

C Larry Howard (.236, 1970-73)
1B Ryan Howard* (58 homers in 2006)
2B Dave Howard (IF/OF hit .222, 1912, '15)
SS David Howard (Util. did all but C; .229, 1991-99; 111 ERA+ in one game)
3B Matt Howard (.204, 1996 NYY; played more at 2B)
LF Frank Howard* (.273, 382 homers, 16 years)
CF Thomas Howard (.264, 1990-2000)
RF Wilbur Howard (.250, 1973-78)
DH Elston Howard* (.274, 167 homers, 14 years)

C Christopher Howard (.188, 1991, '93-94 SEA)
1B/2B/3B/OF Ivan Howard (.233, 1914-17)
OF/1B/2B/SS Del Howard (.263, 1905-09)
1B/OF Doug Howard (.212, 1972-76)
OF Mike Howard (.182, 1981-83 NYM)
OF Paul Howard (3-for-15, 1909 BOS)
OF Steve Howard (.231, 1990 OAK)

RHSP Bruce Howard (26-31, 1963-68)
LHS-RP Lee Howard (0-1, 1946-47 PIT)
RHRP Fred Howard (1-5, 1979 CHW)
LHRP Christian Howard (2-0, 1 save, 1993-95)
RHRP Earl Howard (two shutout IP with 1918 STL)

Last Name Notes ... A total of 21 men with the surname "Howard" have appeared in the big leagues to date, and if we get creative with moving players to secondary positions and just accept the fact that the pitching is woefully thin, we can sort of build a complete roster ... That pitching staff runs only five men "deep" and those five combined for a career mark of just 29-37 ... Hey, with Elston, Frank and Ryan hitting 3-4-5, the middle of the order is actually quite good; the question remains, can Thomas and Wilbur get on base enough to get "Howard the Ducks" on the pond (sorry about that) for the big men to drive in? ... Yes, the bench has seven men on it, which is one more than we usually budget space for, but with five roster spots open thanks to the pitching issue, why not? ... Hey, David Howard might just get to test out his pitching arm again and see if that career ERA+ can stay above 100 ...

So that's it, Bauxites ... we've come, as the headline of this piece suggests, to Howard's end. The only question is, which of these teams is best ... first, middle or last?