Washington Senators slugger Frank Howard, who spent seven seasons in D.C. and was the driving force behind the teams of the late 60s and early 70s, has died at age 87, the Washington Nationals announced Monday.
A spokesperson for the Nationals said the team was informed of Howard’s death by his family. A cause of death was not provided.
Howard came to D.C. in 1965 in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he won a World Series in 1963. Known for his imposing, 6-foot-7 frame and his tape-measure home runs, Howard slugged 237 of his 382 career home runs during his seven years with the Senators. He was with the Senators when they relocated to Texas and became the Rangers and finished his playing career with the Detroit Tigers.
“Growing up a baseball fan in Washington D.C., Frank Howard was my hero,” said Washington Nationals Managing Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner. “The towering home runs he hit into the stands at RFK Stadium gave him the nickname ‘Capital Punisher,’ but I’ll always remember him as a kind and gentle man. The entire Lerner family would like to offer our thoughts and condolences to Frank’s family during this difficult time. The world of baseball has truly lost a giant.”
Also nicknamed “Hondo,” Howard played 1,895 regular-season and three postseason games from 1958-73.
Howard hit the final home run for the Senators at RFK in 1971 and the first at Arlington Stadium in April 1972 after the team moved.
“He was the ultimate teammate, always,” Dick Bosman, who played six-plus seasons with Howard with Washington and Texas and remained friends with him for decades, told The Associated Press Monday. “Next to my dad, he’s the greatest guy I know.”
In D.C., Howard played outfield and first base and was a four-time All Star, finishing top-5 in MVP voting in 1969 and 1970. He holds the D.C. baseball record for most home runs in a season (48), most consecutive games with a home run (6) and highest career slugging percentage (.513).
“Frank was a legendary figure in this town and a player that D.C. baseball fans truly admired,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “I had the utmost respect for him both as a ballplayer and as a human being, and it was always a pleasure seeing him at Nationals Park. He was generous with his time and was never afraid to pass along his knowledge and wisdom.”
He spent a brief time as a manager, with the San Diego Padres in 1981 and the New York Mets in 1983.
Howard was inducted into the Nationals Park Ring of Honor in 2016.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.