Howard's Lakewood Return
May 23, 2007
He wore a red jersey, number 6, with the name R Howard on the back. Over 8,000 fans showed up for an 11 o-clock game this morning at FirstEnergy Park, the first of a two-game rehab assignment with the Lakewood BlueClays for reigning MVP Ryan Howard.
Five years ago Howard played for Lakewood during his journey to the majors. He hit .280 with 19 home runs 87 RBI and a career-high six triples. It was his second year in pro ball.
In returning to Lakewood, Howard needed an R on his uniform as there is a second Howard on the club, Kevin, who also plays first base.
Ryan gave everyone their money’s worth. He walked, lined an RBI double to right center, struck out and then drilled a three-run, game-winning home run in the seventh with runners on first and third. He received a standing ovation from the crowd. He was greeted in the dugout to a standing high five by his temporary teammates.
After the game, he treated his teammates to a BBQ ribs dinner, not the normal post-game spread for a Class A team.
But, before they could munch, the players had some homework to do. Coach Kevin Jordan has each player update a daily diary immediately after each game, something he did during his big league career. Who they faced, what kind of pitch did they hit for a base hit, how did the pitcher get him out, was there any difference from the last time they faced that pitcher, etc. “It was a big help in my career so we started doing it here,” said Jordan, a first-year coach under manager Steve Roadcap.
Something else that was new to the players, multiple post-game interviews. Normally, Brendan Burke, the Claws’ broadcaster/PR person, issues three media credentials for a home game. Today it was 39, including five TV stations from Philadelphia. NBC3 even sent a helicopter to catch an aerial view of Ryan’s return to Lakewood.
Ryan was the designated hitter. Tomorrow night he’ll play first base in a BlueClaws pinstriped uniform jersey. If everything is fine, he will board a plane for Atlanta on Friday morning and be activated in time for the game that night against the Braves.
The 11 o’clock game was a school day promotion. Nearly 7,000 of the crowd were kids. The parking lot looked like a yellow bus convention. More fans are expected for the 6:35 p.m. game tomorrow.
Pitchers Cole Hamels, Randy Wolf, Tim Worrell and Wayne Gomes have all served rehab assignments at Lakewood. None stirred up the interest like Howard.
John Brazer, the Fun ‘N Games blogger on this site, was also there. Check out his blog for a different persepective.
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