Ryan Howard’s Sad Family Story

Howard Is BackCharlie Manuel has plenty of opinions on hitting a baseball, and one of them centered on the psyche of the hitter.

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?

6 Comments

Very sad. Baseball is a great game. Money pretty much sucks.

Reblogged this on thereisnosanityclause and commented:
for my husband to read…how greedy can baseball get?

Let me say I appreciate everything Ryan has done during our glory years and I remain a fan. But really, at age 31-32 (when I guess this started hitting the fan) ya gotta be able to deal with adult stuff. Life is hard, get over it. To quote Charlie: ” that a divorce, a breakup, an argument, a sick family member or other family issue can affect a hitter at the plate” Guess what, it affects everyone but they don’t go into the tank at work and if they do, they are gone. Let’s leave it that his skills are going downhill due to age and injury, not because he had a lot on his mind. If that’s true I’m sure the castle he is building in Florida also affected his hitting, that must have been on his mind also.

I know this is a really late reply, but I entirely disagree with you. These players are human beings, not robots, regardless how much they get paid. Lots of people going through tough family situations see it affecting the professional and personal lives despite their best efforts.

Ryne Sandberg actually retired when going through a divorce because he saw how poorly he played the previous season with marital problems. After it was settled he unretired and continued to play for two more years. Look at Hall of Famer Frank Thomas as well. He was a monster at the plate in the 90s and then at age 30 after 7 straight seasons finishing in the Top 10 for MVP he had the worst season of his career. Turns out he was going through marital issues at the time and once they were resolved he returned to All Star status.

Just because someone makes hundreds of millions of dollars doesn’t mean they suddenly can repress human emotion. It affects people in ways they don’t even realize until after the fact sometimes. In the case of Ryan Howard, I don’t know how much of his performance this year was affected by that and how much was just an old broken down hitter struggling to get by. I think we can agree they certainly didn’t help his cause.

Could not have said it better than jimmymack did.

I have always appreciated Ryan Howard. Led us to 5 straight East titles. Seems to be a good guy. Seems to play hard. Yes, he is grossly overpaid. Not his fault, would you have said, “No, I am not taking that much money”? Amaro is the problem. Ryan Howard should not be traded, 95 RBI. The problem is that he is hitting 4th instead of 6th, Utley is 3rd instead of 2nd, that Rollins hits 2nd instead of 8th. The problem is that Amaro didn’t get a 3 hole or 4 hole hitter, or keep one (Pence). The problem is that we still have Domonic Brown instead of getting Roy Halladay along with Cliff Lee in 2009 and then winning WS back to back. The problem is that after we do get Halladay, we trade Lee for NOTHING!!! THE PROBLEM IS THAT AMARO STILL WORKS FOR THE PHILLIES

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