Ryan Howard played his final game in a Phillies uniform on Sunday afternoon, ending a golden era in Philadelphia baseball.
Yesterday at the age of 25 I attended the last game Ryan Howard would play in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform. I was just 13 years old when he started in the big leagues. Sure, I remember Jim Thome but Howard is the first baseman I grew up with, watched him grow into the man he became, and watched him bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia.
Each person that walked through the gates of the final game of the season got to take a little piece of history with them: Howard on a stick. Why is it a piece of history? It lists everything Howard has accomplished during his time in Philadelphia. That includes being a three time All-Star, NL Rookie of the Year, NL Most Valuable Player, and NLCS Most Valuable Player. Howard will always be a part of history as he holds the record for most home runs in a Phillies season with 58 and ranks second in Phillies history in homeruns with an amazing 382.
What really hits home the most is Howard was the last Phillie remaining from the 2008 World Series team. The team who dominated the NL East for five years straight. The team who brought the city of Philadelphia together. What people seem to forget is Howard was a major part of that team. He brought the offense, energy, and joy.
Once the Phillies started to miss the playoffs, rebuild, and sign Howard to an expensive contract, he started to become less of a fan favorite. Fans jumped off the bandwagon and would boo constantly at each mistake he made. Fans began to see him as a waste of money. They started counting down the days until his contract was up. Howard couldn’t catch a break.
Luckily during Howard’s last game as a Philadelphia Phillie, the fans remembered and honored who Howard was when he started his career here. I got chills each time he would come to bat as he would receive standing ovations, cheers and claps each time, even though he went 0-4 with one strikeout.
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In a “passing of the torch” moment, Howard was replaced in the top of the ninth inning by Tommy Joseph, giving us a glimpse as what’s to come in 2017.
I’ll be very honest, I got emotional during the tributes and speeches. Howard truly loved the city, his teammates, and the fans. It’s definitely going to be different next season.
Thank you Ryan Howard for everything. You will always have a special place in our hearts.