People keep reminding Frank Howard that he is ahead of Babe Ruth’s 60-homer pace and the Roger Maris 61-homer pace. And after hitting 15 home runs in June, he may have a shot at Rudy York’s record of 18 in a month. The man whom Senators’ manager Ted Williams refers to as the strongest ever to play baseball, thanks people for their interest, but Hondo is not impressed.
Big Frank claims that the worst thing that could happen to him would be to project himself into the future. IN the clubhouse, he is not concerned about days ahead of Ruth or Maris. Howard steers home-run discussions into something far less glamorous – base on balls. With 56 walks, Howard has already surpassed his total for the entire 1968 campaign. Howard is proud of his base on balls total. Williams’ instructions are to wait for the ball in the strike zone. Hondo has quit taking the wild swings.
Howard has been asked a hundred times whether the ball is livelier, but he maintains he cannot tell. It feels the same to him. “Maybe Frank Robinson has the answer,” Hondo said. “He points out that there are 20 more pitchers in the league this year due to expansion, and that’s why we’re hitting more homers.” But of Howard’s 40 home runs, only 4 have come off the expansion teams. Howard has feasted on Boston and Oakland pitching with 7 circuit clouts against those teams.