By Ed Odeven
TOKYO (Oct. 13, 2014) — I don’t have incredibly vivid memories of the mid-1980s Kansas City Royals, but knowing that the late Dick Howser, their skipper at the time, had been a former New York Yankees player, coach and manager made him a pretty cool guy, I thought, even though I was a fiery supporter of the rival Yankees — following every game, whenever possible.
Now that the Royals are on a remarkable magic carpet ride of a playoff run, though, my mind flashes back to Howser’s battle with a brain tumor.
Having read in the newspaper and/or seen the news on TV that Howser was battling cancer, I remember writing a short letter to the ailing Royals manager, offering a few words of encouragement, and mailing it to Kansas City after looking up the address for the team’s ballpark.
I don’t recall exactly when I mailed the letter — but I believe it was sometime during the summer of 1986 (the year after K.C won the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team I was rooting for) — or received the reply.
But, to my surprise, one day I did receive a printed greeting card that said something to this effect:
Thank you for your warm support and encouragement. We have received hundreds of letters from around the country and your words of encouragement and your prayers sustain us at this difficult time. — Dick and Nancy Howser
It was a kind gesture and it demonstrated again that Dick Howser was a class act on and off the baseball diamond.
He lost his battle with cancer in June 1987 at age 51. And I’ve always wondered how the Royals under Howser would’ve done if he had remained healthy and in charge for years to come.
I placed that greeting card in a photo album as a keepsake. And though I’ve moved nearly a dozen times since then, I hope I still have that card somewhere.