PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard thanked the scout who discovered him and the general manager who took a chance on a first baseman from a small Missouri college. He credited his A-ball manager Sunday afternoon for helping him understand baseball at a high level, called Charlie Manuel "my guy", and remembered hitting coach Milt Thompson for all the work he did to get Howard's swing just right.
And then Howard ended his retirement by turning towards the home dugout at Citizens Bank Park.
"And to the current team," Howard said.
The first baseman paused. The Phillies had lost 18 of their last 28 games. For the first time this season, they started the day without ownership of a playoff spot. The fans cheered and Howard nodded.
"Y'all support these guys the same way you supported us," Howard said. "It's not going to be good all the time, but damn it, when it's good, we know what it feels like. Let these men know what it feels like. Because, they come out here every single day and put it on the line win, lose, or draw. The good, the bad, the ugly. But damn it, they're trying. As long as they give you the hustle and play the game they way it's supposed to be played, don't ever boo these men."
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