Baseball base

July 26, 1968

Fenway Park was overflowing with supporters of Eugene McCarthy’s tilting at the windmill reserved for the Democratic nomination for president, and the Red Sox were stuck in New York as their scheduled game with the Yankees was rained out.

But Elston Howard, nearing the end of his second year with Boston and 14th year of his big-league career, was firm in his decision that he’d quit then and there if he required further surgery on his right elbow.

Bone chips had been nagging him, and he’d already endured elbow surgery once. If the final determination of the Red Sox medical staff listed surgery as his only option, Howard would pack it in.

The Red Sox were stuck in a race to decide which American League team would come closest to the champion-in-waiting Detroit Tigers, who charged out of the gate, built a comfortable lead and would ride the arms of Denny McLain (a 31-game winner) and Mickey Lolich (17-9) to the pennant. They then stunned the Cardinals in the World Series.

Howard played on, finally announcing his retirement on Oct. 29.

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