New York Yankees: All-time best catchers in franchise history
New York Yankees all-time best catchers – No. 5: Elston Howard
Rounding out the Yankee catchers that have their numbers retired on this list is Elston Howard. Across 13 seasons with the Yankees, Howard garnered 12 All-Star selections, four World Series titles, two Gold Glove awards and an MVP award.
Having played in the Negro American League as an outfielder from 1948-1950, Howard signed with the Yankees in 1950. After missing two seasons due to military service, Howard returned to the minor leagues in 1953, where he was converted to catcher. In 1955, at the age of 26, he became the first black player on the Yankees major league roster.
Howard accumulated 167 HR, 762 RBI and 218 doubles in 5,845 PA in his career, with most of those numbers coming as a member of the Yankees. His MVP year came in 1963 when Howard had a slash line of .287/.342/.528 and tallied 28 HR and 85 RBI. Additionally, Howard won the first of what would be back-to-back Gold Glove awards.
With the Yankees, Howard played in nine World Series, with four wins. Howard hit .261 with five HR, 18 RBI, seven doubles and 25 runs scored in 47 games. In World Series history, Howard currently ranks 10th in doubles and eighth in runs scored, leaving a lasting legacy as not only one of the earliest black players in the league, but as one of the all-time greats in Yankee history.
Fun fact: Howard is credited for creating the famous batting “doughnut” in 1955.