Elston Gene Howard (February 23, 1929 – December 14, 1980) was an American professional baseball catcher, left fielder and coach. During a 14-year baseball career, he played in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball from 1948 through 1968, primarily for the New York Yankees. He also played for the Kansas City Monarchs and the Boston Red Sox.
The first African American player on the Yankees roster, he was named the American League's Most Valuable Player for the 1963 pennant winners after finishing third in the league in slugging average and fifth in home runs, becoming the first black player in AL history to win the honor. He won Gold Glove Awards in 1963 and 1964, in the latter season setting AL records for putouts and total chances in a season. His lifetime fielding percentage of .993 was a major league record from 1967 to 1973, and he retired among the AL career leaders in putouts (7th, 6,447) and total chances (9th, 6,977).
One of the most regular World Series participants in history, he appeared in ten of them, winning four, and ranks among Series career leaders in several categories. He also won two World Series as a coach. His lifetime slugging average of .427 ranked fourth among AL catchers at the time of his retirement.
By Dean Hanley
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