Dick Howser

Last updated
Dick Howser
Dick Howser 1985.jpg
Howser at the White House in 1985
Shortstop / Manager
Born:(1936-05-14)May 14, 1936
Miami, Florida
Died: June 17, 1987(1987-06-17) (aged 51)
Kansas City, Missouri
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
April 11, 1961, for the Kansas City Athletics
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1968, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
Batting average .248
Home runs 16
Runs batted in 165
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Richard Dalton Howser (May 14, 1936 – June 17, 1987) was an American Major League Baseball shortstop, coach, and manager, best known as the manager of the Kansas City Royals during the 1980s, and for guiding them to the franchise's first World Series title in 1985.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

Shortstop defensive position in baseball and softball played on the left side of the infield between second and third bases

Shortstop, abbreviated SS, is the baseball or softball fielding position between second and third base, which is considered to be among the most demanding defensive positions. Historically the position was assigned to defensive specialists who were typically poor at batting and were often placed at the bottom of the batting order. Today shortstops are often able to hit well and many are placed at the top of the lineup. In the numbering system used by scorers to record defensive plays, the shortstop is assigned the number 6.

In baseball, a number of coaches assist in the smooth functioning of a team. They are assistants to the manager, who determines the lineup and decides how to substitute players during the game. Beyond the manager, more than a half dozen coaches may assist the manager in running the team. Essentially, baseball coaches are analogous to assistant coaches in other sports, as the baseball manager is to the head coach.


Playing career

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 was named The Sporting News rookie of the year.

West Palm Beach, Florida City in Florida

West Palm Beach is a city in and the county seat of Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. It is located immediately to the west of the adjacent Palm Beach, which is situated on a barrier island across the Lake Worth Lagoon. The population was 99,919 at the 2010 census. West Palm Beach is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6,158,824 people in 2017.

Florida State University university in the United States

Florida State University is a public space-grant and sea-grant research university in Tallahassee, Florida. It is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Founded in 1851, it is located on the oldest continuous site of higher education in the state of Florida.

Sigma Nu Undergraduate college fraternity founded at the Virginia Military Institute

Sigma Nu (ΣΝ) is an undergraduate college fraternity founded at the Virginia Military Institute on January 1, 1869. The fraternity was founded by James Frank Hopkins, Greenfield Quarles and James McIlvaine Riley shortly after Hopkins witnessed what he considered a hazing ritual by upperclassmen at the Virginia Military Institute. The fraternity's existence remained secret until the founders publicly announced their new society on January 1, 1869. Since its founding, Sigma Nu has more than 279 active and inactive chapters and colonies across the United States and Canada and has initiated more than 227,000 members. Sigma Nu, Kappa Alpha Order and Alpha Tau Omega make up the Lexington Triad.

As his stats 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 (3) clubs – Kansas City Athletics, Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees.

Cleveland Indians Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Cleveland, Ohio, United States

The Cleveland Indians are an American professional baseball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) Central division. Since 1994, they have played at Progressive Field. The team's spring training facility is at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona. Since their establishment as a major league franchise in 1901, the Indians have won two World Series championships: in 1920 and 1948, along with 10 Central Division titles and six American League pennants. The Indians' current World Series championship drought is the longest active drought.

The 1964 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished in a tie for sixth place in the American League with the Minnesota Twins, while winning 79 and losing 83, 20 games behind the AL champion New York Yankees.

New York Yankees Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in the Bronx, New York, United States

The New York Yankees are an American professional baseball team based in the New York City borough of the Bronx. The Yankees compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) East division. They are one of two major league clubs based in New York City, the other being the New York Mets of the National League. In the 1901 season, the club began play in the AL as the Baltimore Orioles. Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchased the franchise and moved it to New York City, renaming the club the New York Highlanders. The Highlanders were officially renamed the Yankees in 1913.

Managerial career

Immediately following his playing career, he was the third base coach with the Yankees for ten seasons (1969–78). 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.

The 1978 New York Yankees season was the 76th season for the Yankees. The team finished with a record of 100–63, finishing one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox to win their third American League East title. The two teams were tied after 162 games, leading to a one-game playoff, which the Yankees won.

Billy Martin American baseball player and manager

Alfred Manuel Martin Jr., commonly called "Billy", was an American Major League Baseball second baseman and manager who, in addition to leading other teams, was five times the manager of the New York Yankees. First known as a scrappy infielder who made considerable contributions to the championship Yankee teams of the 1950s, he then built a reputation as a manager who would initially make bad teams good, before ultimately being fired amid dysfunction. In each of his stints with the Yankees he managed them to winning records before being fired by team owner George Steinbrenner or resigning under fire, usually amid a well-publicized scandal such as Martin's involvement in an alcohol-fueled fight.

Bob Lemon American baseball player and coach

Robert Granville Lemon was an American right-handed pitcher and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB). Lemon was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a player in 1976.

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.

George Michael Steinbrenner III was an American businessman who was the principal owner and managing partner of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees. During Steinbrenner's 37-year ownership from 1973 to his death in July 2010, the longest in club history, the Yankees earned seven World Series titles and 11 pennants. His outspokenness and role in driving up player salaries made him one of the sport's most controversial figures. Steinbrenner was also involved in the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast shipping industry.

Reggie Jackson American professional baseball player and coach

Reginald Martinez Jackson is an American former professional baseball right fielder who played 21 seasons for the Kansas City / Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, and California Angels of Major League Baseball (MLB). Jackson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

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.

In the 2007 ESPN produced mini-series The Bronx Is Burning , Howser was portrayed by actor Max Casella.

Kansas City Royals

Howser (to left of podium) presents President Ronald Reagan with a Royals jacket, hat, and bat at the White House after their World Series victory. 1985 Kansas City Royals at White House.jpg
Howser (to left of podium) presents President Ronald Reagan with a Royals jacket, hat, and bat at the White House after their World Series victory.

The next year, Kansas City, his postseason rival on multiple occasions 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.[ citation needed ] 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 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 three 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 32 victory, starting a 30-year stretch that has seen the junior circuit go 2261 in the Mid-Summer Classic after going 221 from 1963 through 1985.

Managerial record

TeamFromToRegular season recordPost–season record
WLWin %WLWin %
New York Yankees 1978 197801.000
New York Yankees 1980 198010359.63603.000
Kansas City Royals 1981 1986 404365.525812.400
Reference: [1]


Howser attempted a comeback during spring training of 1987 with the Royals, 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 at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, [2] [3] and was buried in Tallahassee, Florida. Two pitchers from his 1981 Royals team later died of brain cancer: Dan Quisenberry in 1998 and Ken Brett in 2003.

Howser was survived by his wife Nancy and twin daughters from a previous marriage.


Howser's managerial number 10 was retired by the Royals alongside George Brett and Frank White. RoyalsRetired.JPG
Howser's managerial number 10 was retired by the Royals alongside George Brett and Frank White.
Kansas City Royals - 10.png
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.

Florida State University's baseball team plays on Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium, named in his honor, and he is honored with a bronze bust on the stadium grounds.

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.

See also

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  1. "Dick Howser". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  2. "Howser 'left his mark' before dying of cancer". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. June 18, 1987. p. 1D.
  3. Thomas, Robert McG., Jr. (June 18, 1987). "Dick Howser dies at 51; ex-manager of Royals". New York Times. p. B12.
Preceded by
Frankie Crosetti
New York Yankees third base coach
Succeeded by
Mike Ferraro