There are more than a few notable player's final bubble gum cards in this classic '67 set. For decades, I always assumed this was Elston Howard's final card as well. Little did I know, he was featured in the '68 set with the Boston Red Sox. Howard had one last hurrah with the Red Sox, appearing in the '67 Series.
This card was always viewed by me as being a prized possession. One of the cards I was most happy to have and it still is. Elston Howard was the star player of the golden era of the Yankees I never saw on television during the old timer's day ceremonies. He and Maris both died far to young.
Howard not only was the first African American baseball player in the Yankees organization, he was also one of their best. A nine time all star and one time MVP. A solid hitter in his career and also a great fielder who almost literally played everywhere. He played catcher, outfield and infield. He took on all of these assignments and remained a solid and focused slugger.
People for decades have criticized the Yankees for not integrating and breaking the major league color barrier until 1955. In defense to the Yankees, Howard was working his way to the Majors on a team that had one won five straight world championships and in 1954, the team broke 100 wins in the season for the first and last time in the decade. Ironically, they weren't close to catching the Cleveland Indians that season either. Howard started in the Yankees organization in 1950. Elston Howard lost a couple of seasons two military service, likely fighting in Korea. He returned to organized baseball after his military service. During his years in the minors, Howard played catcher and the outfield. The Yankees in the Majors were loaded in both positions. Yogi Berra may have been the best placed catcer in all of baseball. He won three MVP awards within a span of four seasons, back to back in '54 and '55. Howard came up in the outfield in '55 and he never again spent a day in the minors.
The card looks excellent and it looks like it was taken on the same day ad by the same photographer as the Whitey Ford card. Howard's smile always reminded me of the power of optimism even though his hat looks like it was thrown back onto his head. I imagine this was the case.
Howard was one of the last great Yankees from the era of the championships to appear in this '67 set. While this card was never worth more than $5, I felt it was worth $50