Last month Paul Lukas of UniWatch noted a small error in the Tom Seaver statue that the New York Mets commissioned. The #4 is incorrect. Lukas even followed up on the original write-up.
That reminded me of the Frank Howard statue in front of Nationals Park. Aside from oft-discussed multiple arms, there is another error on the Howard statue. He’s not wearing the correct number for the Washington Senators uniform he’s wearing.
Pinstripes on the statue
Howard joined the Senators in 1965 and wore several variations of uniforms. Prior to 1969, the expansion Senators had always worn pinstripes. The Griffith incarnation of Senators had primarily worn pinstripes from 1912 onward. The were a few exceptions like the 1930-1940s and oddly enough, the 1924 World Series.
1969 – New uniforms and a new number
When Ted Williams became manager of the Senators, the pinstripes were removed from the uniforms. Howard also changed his number from #9, which Williams adopted, to #33.
The Howard statue clearly has pinstripes and the #33. While he may have worn that in spring training, he wouldn’t have in any regular season action.
Seldom seen statue
Several years ago, the Howard statue, along with the Walter Johnson and Josh Gibson statues were moved. When the ballpark opened in 2008, the statues were in the center field plaza, the busiest entrance due to proximity to Navy Yard Metro. The statues now line home plate entrance along with a history walk detailing pivotal dates in DC baseball history.
The statues were commissioned by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Walter Johnson’s grandson was not impressed with the statues.
A living legend
In the generations following the departure of the Senators, the 6′ 8″ Howard literally and figuratively stood above others.
Hondo seemed the most memorable former DC player. He was the all-time home run leader for Washington across three franchises until Ryan Zimmerman passed him in 2017. It took Zimmerman 12 seasons to do what Howard did in 7. The Capital Punisher also had the distinction of hitting balls well up into the upper deck of RFK Stadium. He joked that the white seats were for the ones he hit up there and the yellow ones for the times he struck out.
Howard stayed active in baseball into the 21st century, even managing the Mets and Padres briefly. His last role was in the Yankees system.
An early misstep by the Lerner ownership was not officially bringing Howard into the franchise. They had talks with him, but they apparently fell through. He was put into the Ring of Honor in 2016. Although Howard’s #33 was “retired” before an exhibition game in the 1990s, it was first used again in 2012 when Edwin Jackson wore it. Several other players have worn #33 since then.