Elston Howard, the first Negro to play for the New York Yankees and one of the last links to their triumphant past, was traded yesterday to the Boston Red Sox. The 38-year-old catcher became an ex-Yankee after 13 seasons for the waiver price of $20,000 plus two young players who will be delivered at the end of the season.
Howard, who got the news at 8 A.M., said he was “shocked.” For a time yesterday, while clearing out his locker at Yankee Stadium, he considered retiring as a player because “I’ve been here all my life and I always felt I would finish my career as a Yankee.” But he was persuaded to join the Red Sox in Bloomington, Minn. this weekend by two things: Boston is making a remarkable run for the American League pennant. And the Yankees made clear in a public statement that they hoped Howard would return to the club when his playing days ended. “Ellie has been through the pennant battles before,” said Michael Burke, the president of the Yankees, “and his experience should prove invaluable to Boston. We hope he will talk with us about his future when his playing career is over.”
Howard, who has played in nine World Series and nine All-Star Games and who earns $65,000 a year, left little doubt that he had expectations of staying in baseball. He owns a prospering travel agency and has numerous other business irons in the fire. But he has been rated a strong candidate for a Yankee coaching job and even has aroused talk that he might some day become the first Negro manager in baseball. But yesterday these possibilities were overpowered by his sense of dismay at leaving the Yankees as the empire continues to be dismembered.