“I’m not a sentimental guy, but I’m sentimental about this.”
“This is utopia for me. This is the topper, something I’ll never forget. I’ll take this to my grave.”
Frank Howard spoke those words on September 30, 1971, following the final game played at RFK Stadium in Washington, in which he received several standing ovations and hit the last home run in Senators history. The franchise moved to Texas after the 1971 season.
The Senators were winning their final game 7-5 when fans rushed the field in the ninth inning, causing a forfeited loss to the Yankees. The statistics for the game stood, however, including Frank Howard’s 237th home run for the team. After rounding the bases, the fans refused to settle down, forcing Hondo to come back out of the dugout and throw his helmet and a kiss to the fans.
When asked if Howard was given an easy pitch to hit, Yankees manager Ralph Houk said, “I may be a nice guy, but not that nice.” He then smiled and admitted, “But I’m glad Howard hit it.”
Howard, whose nicknames included “The Washington Monument” and “The Capital Punisher,” was obviously touched by the fans’ gestures that day. “Everything that happens after this is anticlimatic. Everything is downhill after this. I’m not a sentimental guy, but I’m sentimental about this.”
[This is the ninth of a series of “pre-season” baseball cards published at TWJ cards on tumblr. At least one new virtual card is planned for each day from now until Opening Day. Follow TWJ cards on tumblr for more.]