Ryan Howard’s Sad Family Story
It is a difficult game to play, he often said, but it can become more difficult if the mind is not clear. Manuel reminded people that a divorce, a breakup, an argument, a sick family member or other family issue can affect a hitter at the plate.
Manuel’s words came back today following FOX29’s initial report and The Philadelphia Daily News’ detailed report about Ryan Howard’s twin brother Corey suing him for $2.8 million, Howard’s father requesting $10 million as severance from the “family” business and Howard countersuing because he thought his family conspired to defraud him.
It is hard to imagine Howard had a clear mind at the plate the past couple seasons because of it.
Howard and his family settled out of court last month, but if everything alleged in the court documents are true his family bond has been severely if not completely destroyed. And that has to kill him.
It is sad, if true. Howard’s parents were major forces in his life. They were always around the ballpark, either in Spring Training or during the regular season. (I had not seen them over the past couple years, which makes sense now.) They were very open about how close they were. But those stories from the past look much different today. Howard jettisoned his first agents before the 2005 season for Larry Reynolds. There were rumblings at the time the family was not happy with how the Phillies were handling Howard, who was blocked at first base by Jim Thome. They thought a different agent could force the Phillies into action, even though their logic was completely flawed. Still, Reynolds faxed a trade request to former general manager Ed Wade in April 2005, despite Howard having played in just 19 big-league games at the time. “It is duly noted,” Wade said.
Howard fired Reynolds for Casey Close in Jan. 2007, giving him three agents in a little less than two years.
Howard appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” a short time later. Gumbel asked Howard if his mother Cheryl really gave him an allowance. It was a fun story at the time how Cheryl controlled Howard’s finances, and handed him money when he needed it.
“She handles the funds,” he told Gumbel. “Like, I’ll get it, and then I won’t see it. She’ll let me look at the check, and then it’s gone.”
Gumbel asked Howard’s mother about it. He wondered if he could be the first MVP to receive an allowance from his mother.
“I would beg to differ,” she said. “I would imagine that there are quite a few who, if they don’t have a wife, they have a mother, and there has to be somebody there to keep them on the straight and narrow.”
Howard joked again about the allowance with David Letterman on The Late Show in April 2007.
“Your mom kind of runs the business of you, doesn’t she?” Letterman said.
“She does,” Howard said. “Yes, she does.”
“Now, that’s got to be a comforting thing, right? asked Letterman.
“It is, it is,” Howard said. “You know, the whole allowance thing that goes on. I’ve got to check in with her, you know.”
Howard was asked in Feb. 2008, when he was entering salary arbitration, about who is calling the shots: he, his family or his agent?
“Where’s the speculation coming from?” Howard said. “I want to know. I’m trying to find out who’s speculating about the speculations. I mean, there’s some speculations going on.”
It is hard to know how much Howard’s family drama affected him on the field the past couple seasons. Certainly injuries played a factor in his declining production. Age played a factor. Howard turned 35 today. He simply is not the player he once was. It is why the Phillies are feverishly trying to trade him, eating the majority of the $60 million he is still owed to make it happen. But this family battle certainly was on his mind. Howard might have alluded to it when he asked a reporter in July if he would like to trade places with him.
“Do you want to see what it’s like?” he said. “No, you don’t.”
A few days earlier, he said something else that seems more meaningful today.
“This is baseball,” he said. “I know some people might misconstrue this comment, but baseball is a game. Yeah, I get paid a lot of money to play it, but it’s a game. You go out and see little kids doing it, because it’s a game. You have to keep things in perspective. (Regardless) of what I’m doing out here, I have a beautiful wife, a son, a baby on the way. You have to take a look at life and have to look at it for what it is.”
He never mentioned his parents or the rest of his family. It’s sad, but life goes on. Howard’s next task is trying to halt a steady decline in production from the past few years. Maybe a clearer mind will help. But will he be trying to turn around his career in Philly?