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On This Day In History | 1963

November 7, 2012

4/16/1964 | Howard receives the MVP award from AL president Joe Cronin before their season opener vs. Boston (Corbis)

On this day 49 years ago, Elston Howard became the first african-american to win the American League MVP award, besting runner-up Al Kaline by a vote of 248-148.  Whitey Ford finished in 3rd place with 125 points.  The  Yankees’ first african-american player received 15 of 20 possible first place votes in winning the franchise’s 4th consecutive AL MVP, as Roger Maris won in 1960 and 1961 and Mickey Mantle took the prize in 1962.

Howard was a constant force during a season in which Maris and Mantle missed a combined 169 games due to injury.  He won his first of two consecutive gold glove awards, became an all-star for the 7th straight season, led the regulars in batting average, triples, and home runs, and was second to Joe Pepitone in RBIs.  As the Yankees’ dynasty of the late 50s and early 60s waned, Howard carried his team on his back, almost single-handedly leading them to the World Series, in which he batted .333.

Howard’s 1963 Statistics

135 G | 75 R | 140 H | 21 2B | 6 3B | 28 HR | 85 RBI | 35 BB | 68 SO | .287 BA | .342 OBP | .528 SLG

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