Ryan Howard, first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, was at Yankee Stadium today this past week to play the Yankees. Sadly for Howard, the Phillies lost 10-2, but they still won the series 2–1. Howard has been a Phillie ever since he became a major leaguer since in 2004. He was National League Rookie of the Year in 2005 and the NL MVP in 2006. Howard has a reputation for being especially friendly to young fans and eagerly signs autographs. Together with his wife, Krystle, Howard has written three children’s books about a young baseball player. Kid Reporter Riley Neubauer had a chance to speak with Howard in the visitors’ dugout before the game.
What were your baseball dreams when you were younger?
When I was young I just wanted to go out and have fun playing the game of baseball. I had idols growing up: Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., and Tony Gwynn, all who I liked to watch.
What is the most important part of the game?
To me, the most important part of the game is to have fun. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to. You need to remember why you are playing the game — to have fun, to enjoy your teammates, and to enjoy playing the game itself.
At the games I go to I always see you signing autographs and talking to young Phillies fans. What makes you choose to do that?
I remember being in their place. When I was a kid, we used to go to baseball games, and it was always cool to watch the players as they got loose and ready to play. I think if I can put a smile on somebody’s face, it is always a good thing.
I know you wrote three books for children with your wife. What was your main reason for writing them?
My wife and I wanted to bring attention to baseball. We came up with the idea of Little Rhino to motivate kids to play baseball, to remind them that they are not alone, and to make them aware that they can make a difference.
Are you planning to write more books in the series?
Hopefully; that’s the goal!
What is your pregame routine?
I come in, get loose by stretching, go in the batting cage, do my flips and watch some film on the day’s pitcher., Then I relax and stretch again before the game.
What do you look for when you watch the film of the pitcher?
I watch what the pitcher does in different situations. For example: with runners on base and runners not on base. I watch how his pitches move, how much depth there is to his breaking ball, and how hard his fastball is.
What is your favorite ballpark food?
Easily nachos — with jalapeños! That is a must-have at a ballpark.
What do you think is the funniest thing the Phanatic, the Phillies’ mascot, does is?
I think just about everything he does is funny. The stances that he does before the games while they are announcing the line up — those are pretty funny. I also think how he messes with the other team is funny.
If you could break one MLB record, what would that be and why?
I would like to hit the most home runs — that would be a tall feat. I would have to have a lot of longevity and success to be able to do that. The second record that I would like to break is Joe DiMaggio’s [56-game] hit streak. But that might be tougher!
Photo: Riley Neubauer