Ryan Howard – while wearing the No. 12 – launched the first home run of his major league career on Sept. 11, 2004 at Shea Stadium in New York. It was the first of 48 career home runs against the Mets, but while your first home run is always memorable, a home run against the Mets cross-town rivals sticks out to him as much or more than his first bomb.
Howard, now a partner in the company Diamond Kinetics, recently appeared on an Instagram Live chat for the company and was asked about what individual moment from his career stands out in his memory. His answer? The time he went to previously uncharted territories at Citizens Bank Park.
“There was one off of Mike Mussina…it was 2006…we’re playing at Citizens Bank Park against the Yankees…and Mike made a pitch and I just hit it flush. It that one where you hit it so flush on the barrel that you don’t even feel it off the bat and it went into the third deck at Citizens Bank Park. Nobody had ever been to the third deck before.”
Howard’s third-deck home run off of Mike Mussina in the first inning of that game was one of two home runs that he hit off of the future Hall of Famer that day. In total, Howard drove in seven runs in one of the defining performances of his National League MVP season.
Despite a herculean effort from Howard, the Phillies actually still lost to the Yankees on June 20, 2006. Howard drove in all seven of the Phillies runs, but the Yankees feasted on Cory Lidle, Arthur Rhodes and the team’s pitching staff. Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Kevin Reese and Melky Cabrera all drove in at least one run in a 9-7 Yankees win.
Still, Howard remains the only player to ever hit a ball into the third deck at Citizens Bank Park. And not only did he do it once, but he did it a second time on May 30, 2009, in grand fashion:
While there’s a good chance that at some point during the next 12 years Bryce Harper will reach the third deck, he didn’t as an opponent or during his first season with the Phillies. His walk-off grand slam, as iconic of a moment as it was, “only” reached the second deck in right field.
Just over a month prior to Howard’s first third-deck home run, Home Run King Barry Bonds demolished a ball, one that if he had pulled a bit more likely would have landed in the third deck. As is, the Sunday Night Baseball shot hit off of the facing of the third deck, making it one of the most tremendous home runs in the 16-season history of Citizens Bank Park:
Quite a few of Howard’s 382 career home runs were memorable. There was his 50th home run on Sept. 3, 2006, the first of three he would hit off of Tim Hudson and the Atlanta Braves that day. That was just a few days after he hit a titanic 49th home run at RFK Stadium that allowed him to pass Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and become the Phillies single-season home run king. Phillies fans are also partial to the three home runs that he hit during the 2008 World Series.
But if Howard, who is second in franchise history in home runs, says that his third-deck home run was his most memorable, it’s hard to argue with him.
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