Howser at the White House in 1985
|Shortstop / Manager|
May 14, 1936|
|Died: June 17, 1987
Kansas City, Missouri
|April 11, 1961 for the Kansas City Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 27, 1968 for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||165|
|Career highlights and awards|
Richard Dalton Howser (May 14, 1936 – June 17, 1987) was an American Major League Baseball shortstop, coach and manager. He is best known as the manager of the Kansas City Royals during the 1980s, and for guiding them to the franchise's only World Series title in 1985.
A native of Miami, Florida, Howser grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida, graduated from Palm Beach High School and attended college at Florida State University. He was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. At Florida State, he received honors twice as an All-American shortstop and set a school record with a batting average of .422 in 1956. Signed by the Kansas City Athletics, he hit .280, stole 37 bases, scored 108 runs, and led American League shortstops in putouts and errors in his rookie season. For this, he was selected to the 1961 All-Star team and named The Sporting News rookie of the year.
As his production declined in the following two years, his only other season as a regular was with the Cleveland Indians in 1964. His major league career spanned eight seasons with three clubs: Kansas City, Cleveland, and the New York Yankees.
Immediately following his playing career, he was the third base coach with the Yankees for ten seasons (1969–78), and he then spent one year, 1979, as head baseball coach at his alma mater, Florida State.
As a manager at the major league level, Howser was highly successful, never finishing lower than second place during his seven-year managerial career.
New York Yankees
He made his debut in 1978, managing one game with the Yankees between Billy Martin's and Bob Lemon's first tours as skipper in the Bronx. In 1980, he returned from Florida State to become a full-time manager of the Yanks, taking them to the AL Eastern Division championship with a 103–59 record, but losing three consecutive games to the Kansas City Royals in the playoffs.
Howser was one of the few Yankee managers who refused to let owner George Steinbrenner push him around. Steinbrenner had a rule about facial hair, which Reggie Jackson would skirt around from time to time in 1980. Howser, thinking it was unimportant with the year Reggie was having, refused to correct Jackson, but Jackson later relented and shaved out of respect for Howser. Also, whenever Steinbrenner would call the manager's office before or after games while Howser was meeting with coaches or reporters, Howser would pick up the phone, say "I'm busy!", and hang up.
Steinbrenner, however, got the last word. In Game 2 of the 1980 ALCS, Yankee third base coach Mike Ferraro waved Willie Randolph home on a double by Bob Watson with two outs in the top of the eighth inning and the Yankees down 3-2. Randolph was thrown out at the plate on a relay throw by George Brett, prompting Steinbrenner to jump out of his seat and shout what appeared to be profanities on live national television. Steinbrenner wanted Ferraro fired on the spot after the game, but Howser refused. The Yankees would go on to lose the ALCS in three games, and Steinbrenner fired Howser shortly after that.
Kansas City Royals
The next year, Kansas City, his postseason rival on multiple occasons in previous seasons, hired Howser to manage the last 33 games of the strike-shortened 1981 season. Under Howser, the Royals finished second in 1982 and 1983. Prior to the 1984 season, their clubhouse ravaged by drug problems, the Royals started disassembling their team and starting over. Kansas City expected 1984 to be a rebuilding year, but Howser guided the young team to a division title. The Royals were defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series, three games to none.
The following year, Howser guided the Royals to their first and to date, only World Series title. The Royals reached the World Series by defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, which was Toronto's first postseason appearance. The Royals then went on to defeat the heavily favored St. Louis Cardinals. In both the ALCS and World Series, the Royals won each series by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to take the last 3 games.
1986 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
As manager of the defending AL champions, the Kansas City Royals, Howser managed the 1986 All-Star Game at the Astrodome in Houston. Broadcasters noticed he was messing up signals when he changed pitchers, and Howser later admitted he felt sick before the game. It was the last game he would manage in the major leagues, as he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent surgery. Howser guided the AL to a 3–2 victory, starting a 25-year stretch that has seen the junior circuit go 19–5–1 in the Mid-Summer Classic after going 2–21 from 1963 through 1985.
Howser attempted a comeback during spring training of 1987 with Kansas City, but quickly found he was physically too weak and abandoned the attempt in late February, when Billy Gardner took over. Three months later, he died in St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and was buried in Tallahassee, Florida. His death was caused by a brain tumor.
|Dick Howser's number 10 was retired by the Kansas City Royals in 1987.|
On July 3, 1987, Howser's number 10 became the first number retired by the Kansas City Royals. Also in that year, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce established the Dick Howser Trophy, college baseball's equivalent of college football's Heisman Trophy, in Howser's honor.
The Royals also commissioned a new bronze statue for their Outfield Experience to cap off the end of Kauffman Stadium renovations in 2009. The statue was revealed in a dedication ceremony on Opening Day, April 10, 2009.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Dick Howser managerial career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- MLB Network Remembers Howser
- Dick Howser at Find a Grave