The day Frank Howard led off
With Cody Bellinger leading off tonight, David Young wondered if he was the tallest lead off hitter in Dodger history. He found that Ex-Dodger Frank Howard had once led off but it wasn’t as a Dodger it was with the Senators. Big Hondo was 6’7 and a mountain of a man.
Once David posted that info my old mind kicked into gear and I vaguely remembered the reason. I lived in Alexandria, VA at the time and the Senators were my adopted team. I felt it had something to do with the home run race so I popped over to Baseball Reference to see if my memory was functioning for once.
It was. In 1969 on the morning of Oct 1st, both Frank Howard and Harmon Killebrew had 48 home runs. The Twins were playing the White Sox in a day game on Wednesday Afternoon. Killebrew hit his 49th home run in the first inning.
Ted Williams had Frank Howard lead off so that he could get more at-bats to try to hit his 49th home run. Hondo came up empty and for the Senators that was the last game of the year. The Twins still had one more game but Killebrew went hitless on Oct 2nd.
1969 was the year of the home run with seven players hitting forty or more home runs.
Player HR Year Age Tm OPS Pos Harmon Killebrew 49 1969 33 MIN 1.011 *5*3 Frank Howard 48 1969 32 WSA .976 *73/9H Reggie Jackson 47 1969 23 OAK 1.018 *98/H Willie McCovey 45 1969 31 SFG 1.108 *3/H Hank Aaron 44 1969 35 ATL 1.003 *9/3H Rico Petrocelli 40 1969 26 BOS .992 *6/5 Carl Yastrzemski 40 1969 29 BOS .870 *73/8
Frank Howard led MLB in home runs in 1968 and 1970 with 44 home runs but came in 2nd in 1969 when he blasted 48.
The American League was loaded in 1969 but it was the Mets who found history by defeating the Orioles in the World Series. The Orioles had won 109 games and swept a powerful Twin team. It was a shocker then and still a shocker now when I think back to that World Series.