The KC Royals lost a legendary manager too soon on June 17, 1987. On this day in 1987, Dick Howser died of a brain tumor at the age of 51.
KC Royals' manager Howser passed away, just 2 years post-1985 championship.
Bleacher Report's Christopher Woodley had a great profile over the Royals legend in 2011, 24 years following Howser's passing. Born on May 14, 1941, in Miami, Florida, Richard Dalton Howser's love for baseball began at an early age. As a talented shortstop, he made his mark on the field during his collegiate years at Florida State and was a two-time All-American. His passion and talent on the field transitioned to the MLB after his collegiate career.
Howser played for several teams during his professional playing career, including the Kansas City Athletics, Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees. As a rookie with the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, Howser batted .280 with 37 stolen bases and 108 runs scored. However, that would be his best season during his eight-year career. While his time as a player was commendable, it was his foray into managing that truly defined his legacy.
After retiring as a player in 1968, Howser joined the New York Yankees as their third base coach for the next 10 seasons. His contributions were instrumental in the team's successes, including three American League pennants and two World Championships in 1977 and 1978. Howser managed his alma mater, then the Yankees before making his way to Kansas City.
Under his guidance, the Royals achieved unprecedented success, bringing home their first World Series championship in 1985. Howser's strategic brilliance, coupled with his ability to instill discipline and camaraderie among his players, propelled the Royals to new heights. Howser managed the AL squad in the 1986 All-Star game, leading the team toa 3-2 win. But, it would be the last game he managed. Shortly afterward, Howser was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent surgery.
Unfortunately, Howser's comeback attempt during the 1987 spring training with the Kansas City team was cut short due to physical weakness. Tragically, he passed away in Kansas City on June 17 of that same year.
Less than a month after his untimely death, the Royals paid tribute to Howser by retiring his jersey number, No. 10, marking it as the first number ever retired by the franchise. Additionally, in 1987, the Dick Howser Trophy was established by the St. Petersburg, Florida Chamber of Commerce, becoming college baseball's equivalent of the prestigious Heisman Trophy. Furthermore, in honor of his legacy, Florida State University later renamed its baseball stadium after its esteemed former player and head coach.
Howser's success as a manager and his exemplary character garnered immense admiration. He was beloved by Kansas City fans for leading the Royals to a World Series win and for being the last manager to take the team to the playoffs until Ned Yost did. His impact and legacy are treasured in the world of baseball.