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Greetings From The Booth!
Summer is officially here, and we’re getting into the meat of the MLB season. The Washington Nationals, who looked like they were going nowhere fast just a little over a week ago at 26-35, have gone on a 7-1 run to climb back into the conversation in the NL East. Sound familiar? In 2019 the Nats at 19-31 started their amazing run to a World Series title.
To hedge their bets a bit, this week the Nationals brought back aging outfielder Gerardo Parra, who was a big part of the 2019 Championship with some timely hits, and of course “Baby Shark.” I’m not sure the Nats can “fin”ish the job this year (see what I did there?), but it makes for a fun ballpark.
Last week was also a great week for Kyle Schwarber, who was named NL Player Of The Week. Schwarber hit 6 homers, including 5 in a 2-game span, which tied an MLB record. He also hit .385 for the week, as the Nats won 7 of 8 games.
Schwarber’s week of power made me think back to another amazing week in 1968, as the Washington Senators’ Frank Howard hit an incredible 10 homers in a 7-game stretch from May 12-18. That feat still stands as the most home runs hit in a week. Just as amazing was that he he hit those 10 homers in 20 at-bats!
Howard, who stood 6-7 and weighed 255 pounds, was my hero back in the day. The Senators were lousy, but Hondo (one of several nicknames, including “The Washington Monument”) made you forget about that with his one-handed home runs off the Longines sign at RFK Stadium. I remember having a mini Senators bat from a Bat Day promotion, pretending I was Frank Howard in my backyard, imitating his trademark swing. Even today, in my office is a Frank Howard-signed 1960 Rookie Of the Year baseball, which sits in the middle of my Nats bobbleheads.
As a footnote, 5 of Howard’s 10 home runs in that special week came at the expense of the Detroit Tigers, who would go on to win the World Series that year. The Senators, meanwhile, would finish at 65-96. In a year dominated by pitching, Big Frank would lead the Majors in homers with 44, while driving in 106.
Next time you go to a Nationals game, be sure to look at the right field facade, where you’ll see Frank Howard’s name in the team’s Ring Of Honor, next to a couple of Robinsons, Jackie and Frank. And when you see today’s players like Kyle Schwarber go on home run binges, think of that special week in 1968, when Hondo was the best in the game.
Until the next visit from The Booth…GO SENATORS!