As Ryan Howard retires, let's look back at the six best moments of his career
On Tuesday morning, Ryan Howard announced his retirement from baseball with a touching letter to Phillies fans. From his rookie season in 2005 to his final Major League at-bat in 2016, there was one thing Ryan Howard always seemed to do better than his peers: Hit jaw-dropping dingers.
As part of the 2008 Phillies team that won the World Series, Howard was a legend in Philadelphia. That he was the only member of that team's core to play his entire Major League career in a Phillies uniform only adds to his place in the inner circle of franchise greats.
With his career now at its end, let's look at the six most memorable moments of No. 6's career.
Winning the 2006 Home Run Derby
Howard followed up winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2005 with an MVP performance in 2006 in which he led the league with 58 home runs and 149 RBIs, all while maintaining a .313 batting average. On his way to those statistics and awards, Howard made his first All-Star and Home Run Derby appearance.
He and David Wright both hit 18 homers through the first two rounds at PNC Park to earn spots in the finals. After Wright led off with four homers, Howard stepped up and blasted five homers to take home the crown. Not a bad first moment on the national stage.
Hitting two homers in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series
Just one year after reaching the postseason for the first time in 14 years and getting swept by the Rockies in the NLDS, the Phillies reached the World Series in 2008. Howard hit three home runs in that five-game series, including two in the Phillies' 10-2 win over the Rays in Game Four.
It was the only multi-homer postseason game of Howard's career and helped put the Phillies within one game of their first World Series championship since 1980.
The sprint to the mound
Three days later, the Phillies won the World Series when Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske on a slider. The image of Lidge kneeling in front of the mound with his arms raised toward the sky has endured as the memory of that World Series win. But, Howard's joyous sprint from first base to the pitcher's mound perfectly captures the unbridled joy of winning a World Series:
The massive grand slam
Howard hit 382 home runs over the course of his 13 seasons in the Majors, so the sight of him pausing to drop his bat and stare down a towering dinger is a familiar one to those who watched him play.
Of all the towering home runs he hit, his grand slam on May 30, 2009 that landed in the third deck at Citizens Bank Park may have been the most impressive.
"Just get me to the plate, boys"
No list of Howard's greatest moments would be complete without referencing Game Four of the 2009 NLDS against the Rockies. The Phillies entered the ninth inning at Coors Field trailing, 4-2. Prior to the inning, Howard reassured his teammates they were in the game by saying, "Just get me to the plate, boys."
After Chase Utley drew a walk with two outs, Howard came to the plate with runners on first and second. He made good on his word and drove a double over the head of Carlos Gonzalez to tie the game.
Howard later came in to score the winning run on a Jason Werth single to send the Phillies to the NLCS against the Dodgers.
"Cot for Choice"
In addition to his contributions on the field, Howard was regarded as an exceptional teammate. Even when he was recovering from an Achilles tear to start the 2012 season, he was pulling for his fellow Phillies.
Catcher Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz got off to a hot start in 2012 and hit .418/.484/.696 in May. Seeing a teammate deserving of a spot on the All-Star team, Howard implored the fans to help Ruiz make his first All-Star team ... but autocorrect had other plans:
Let's get choice to the allstar. Everyone needs to cot for choice. Let's go, let's go let's go. Vote Carlos Ruiz- Ryan Howard (@ryanhoward) June 5, 2012
Thanks for all the memories and home runs, Ryan Howard!