Everything hit Ryan Howard Sunday afternoon — even though he didn’t get a hit.
Minutes prior to the start of the Phillies 5-2win over the Mets (to end their regular season at 71-91), the Phillies honored the Phils veteran first baseman for, what they claimed was commemoration of his team-record 58th home run hit back in 2006. But the fans knew better And so did Howard.
The 12-year Phillies star is in the final year of his mega contract, signed before Howard tore his Achilles in 2011, and will in all likelihood be bought out and made a free agent later this fall.
After roars of applause and video montages aired at Citizens Bank Park Sunday, Howard took the mic and something unusual happened. He became quite emotional.
“I’m just a laid back cat from St Louis trying to play baseball,” Howard said, later telling the crowd, “We had some good runs didn’t we?”
A plaque was placed in the outfield section where he slammed his record-setting homer in his 2006 MVP season by Howard’s son. And as Howard finished his remarks, the sadness of his impending career ending (in Philadelphia at least) hit home.
“The city as a whole, I want to thank you,” Howard continued, turning away to hide tears.” My family has grown with all of you. On behalf of my teammates I want to thank all you guys for coming out and supporting us all year…. these guys have really worked their butts off to try and be the best that they can coming out each day and each night.”
Howard will need a new home in 2017, but he’ll always be one of the main catalysts for the club’s 2008 World Series run, and the slugger — who hit 25 home runs seven times, a grand slam 15 times and the second most homers and RBI in team history — will forever be a legend in South Philly.