Forgotten Player of the Moment – HOWARD JOHNSON
(by Bill Barnwell)
One of my other childhood memories is going on a road trip with my parents and watching places go by on the side of the road. I remember we saw a bunch of one particular hotel chain, leading me to ask my father “How does Howard Johnson run all those hotels when he’s playing baseball?”
My real question should’ve been “How does Howard Johnson run all those hotels while being the best player in fantasy baseball?”. Look at that 1989 line! 36 homers! 41 steals! .287 average! If it wasn’t for the fact that the only player of any offensive relevance that year playing on the Mets was Dave Magadan, he would’ve driven in 130 guys instead of the 101 he did.
The big knock on him his entire career, of course was the fact that he can’t field, which is true. Unlike Jack Cust (to use an example), though, it wasn’t that he couldn’t field at left or right field. He could not field at shortstop! At third base! Howard Johnson was a klutz with the glove, but one with ambition.
He had a really interesting career, playing for some pretty legendary teams: the 84 Tigers, the 86 Mets, the…94 Rockies had a lot of people watch them. He ended in 1995 with the Cubs in a stint I can’t remember for the life of me.
His final big year was with the 91 Mets, which seems like the worst clubhouse you’d ever want to play in until two years later with the same team. The 91 group of winners included Gregg Jeffries, Vince Coleman,Garry Templeton, Todd Hundley, and Doc. I’m not sure how I even attempted to grow up a Mets fan but it somehow stuck for a while.