Ryan Howard has not played baseball in 2018 and, in 2017, spent the year with the Triple-A affiliates of the Braves and Rockies. It was clear, then, that his major league career was over, even if he never formally announced his retirement. Still, a player of Howard’s caliber is entitled to an official retirement announcement and today he made his, in a post at The Players Tribune.
It’s a lengthy post, primarily a love letter to the fans in Philadelphia and the Phillies organization, chronicling all of the highs and all of the lows of his career, all thirteen big league seasons of which were spent in a Phillies uniform. He closes it like this:
All you can hope for in baseball, I think, is a moment of perfection every now and again. You can hope for a few, perfect moments — moments that belong to you, that are yours. And then you can hope for them to matter.
And if it’s cool with everyone reading this … I’m going to feel like my moments did.
So thank you to the entire Phillies organization. Thank you to my teammates turned brothers. Thank you to my beautiful wife, Krystle, our two daughters, Ariana and Alexandria, and my son, Darian. Thank you to the crazy game that I’ll miss, and the crazy city that I love. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the most passionate group of fans in the world.
Y’all took a chance on this big, quiet kid from St. Louis — and for that I’ll always be grateful.
Howard’s big league career ends with a line of .258/.343/.515 with 382 career home runs and 1,194 career RBI in 1,572 games. He was the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year, led the league in homers in 2006 and 2008, hitting 58 bombs in the former season, for which he won the NL MVP award, and hit 48 in the latter. He had two other seasons with 45+ homers and led the league in RBI in 2006, 2008 and 2009, driving in more than 140 runs in each of those seasons. Howard, of course, won a World Series ring with the 2008 Phillies and played in the 2009 World Series as well. He was the MVP of the 2009 NLCS.
His peak was certainly Hall of Fame worthy, but the bookends of his career left him with a resume that will keep him out of Cooperstown.
He got a late start to his big league career, thanks to a conservative approach to promoting prospects by the Phillies front office and thanks to being blocked by future Hall of Famer Jim Thome at first base early on. As such he did not make his big league debut until he was almost 25 years-old despite the fact that he destroyed minor league pitching from 2001-2004. The back end of his career was impacted by an achilles injury in the final play of the Phillies Game 5 loss in the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 that cut short his following season, with additional injuries hampering him in 2013. He was never really the same after that.
Despite all of that, Howard’s career was a wonderful one, which he chronicles with much love and affection in his post today. Go check it out.