St. Louis Hometown Stories: Ryan Howard, First Baseman, Philadelphia Phillies
Photograph courtesy of Rockwood School District/Lafayette High School
Ryan Howard was born in Hazelwood and moved to Wildwood when he and his twin brother, Corey, were 9 years old. After graduating from Lafayette High School and playing at Missouri State University, he became the fastest player in Major League Baseball history to reach both the 100- and 200-home-run milestones. “The Big Piece” signed a staggering $179 million contract to play with the Phillies through 2016.
In elementary school, we would go over to friends’ houses and ride our bikes, play basketball or street hockey. Once my brother and I got driver’s licenses, we’d go to Golden Wok, Imo’s, Pasta House, White Castle. Another high-school hangout was Subway in Westglen Farms—I know it may sound like a shameless plug [Howard is a spokesman for the chain], but that was actually what we used to do.
During my sophomore year at Lafayette, myself and another sophomore were asked to try out for the varsity baseball team. The week before the regular season, though, the coach sent me back down to the sophomore team. My sophomore coach, Rob Dirks, sat me down—he was one of those straight-talking kind of guys—and he said, “Look, I know it sucks. I know you would rather be up there than down here, but you can either sit here and cry about it or you can do something about it.” That stuck with me throughout my entire career…
St. Louis is a very cool, very laid-back town—there really isn’t anything I don’t like. Even the weather... I bought a house in Wildwood, and I still get back there. There is always a chance that I may come back. It would definitely be on my top three list—that is always home.