Elston "Ellie" Howard was one of the best catchers in storied history of the New York Yankees. Following in the footsteps of a the great Yogi Berra. In his career with the Yankees, he would be on four World Series champion teams. His career started in the Negro Leagues with the famed Kansas City Monarchs under Buck O'Neill. Where he would be the roommate of a future member of the baseball Hall of Fame, a kid named Ernie Banks. In 1950, he was signed by the New York Yankees. Howard was signed as an outfielder, and it wasn't until the spring training of 1954.
In 1955, he made his debut with the Yankees. He would spend his first three seasons playing between outfield, and serving as the backup catcher. In his first season, he hit .290/.336/.477 slash line with 10 home runs, with 43 RBI, in 305 plate appearances. On April 14, 1955, he became the first black player to wear the uniform of the New York Yankees.
During the course of his career, he was a 12 time all-star in as a member of the New York Yankees. 1963 was his best season, he hit 28 home runs with 85 RBI, and a slash line of .287/.342/.528. He would be named Most Valuable Player in the American League, and becoming the first black player to win the award in the junior circuit. He also was the Gold Glove award winner that season, and would capture the award again in 1964.
He finished his playing career with the Boston Red Sox. After his playing days, he would return to the Yankees as a coach for two seasons, and being a part of the staff on the World Series champions in 1977 and 1978. Tragically Howard would die at the young age of 51 of heart failure after being diagnosed with myocarditis. His #32 was retired by the Yankees.
They were three brothers that all escaped poverty in the Dominican Republic, and were each signed by the San Francisco Giants. The Alou brothers were the first set of three siblings to play in the outfield together on September 15, 1963. They were also the first set of three siblings to bat in the same half inning only 5 days earlier. They never started a game together in the outfield.
Jesus Rojas Alou at the time of his signing the Giants considered him the best prospect of the three brothers. The Giants signed him for $4,000. July 10, 1964 was the best game of his career going 6 for 6 with a home run and five singles. He never developed the power the Giants expected. He had a career high of 9 home runs in 1965. 1970 with the Houston Astros was his best offensive season slashing .306/.335/.384, but with only one home run his was traded to the Oakland Athletics. In Oakland, he would be part of the 1973-1974 Oakland A's World Series Champions. Always a solid outfielder, he had a long career with 15 seasons in the Major Leagues.
Mateo "Matty" Rojas Alou made his Major League debut for the Giants on September 26, 1960. His career was wasting away in San Francisco as platoon player. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and under the instruction of Harry "The Hat" Walker his career was revived. In his first season with the Pirates in 1966, he won the National League batting title hitting .342/.373/.421. It was the start of a four-year stretch where he hit .330 or above. He was a National League all-star in 1968-1969. He was also a member of the 1972 Oakland A's World Series Champions. He closed out his career with the Cardinals, Yankees, Padres, and a three-year stint in Nippon Professional Baseball.
Felipe Rojas Alou signed with the Giants in 1955 for$200. When he made his debut in 1958, it would be the start of a 17-year career in Major League Baseball. It wasn't until 1961 that he started to get enough playing time for his power to blossom. He hit 18 home runs that season, he would hit 25 and 20 respectively before being traded to the Milwaukee Braves. In 1966, he enjoyed the best season of his career hitting 31 home runs with 74 RBI. He topped the National League in runs scored (122), hits (218), and had the best slash line of his career .327/.361/.533/.894. 1968, he again led the NL in hits with 210 hits, but at 33 his power was tapering off at a rapid rate. He would bounce between the Oakland A's, New York Yankees, Montreal Expos, and Milwaukee Brewers to close out his career. He was 3-times all-star (62, 66, and 68). He served as manager of the Montreal Expos from 1992-2001, and was National League Manager of the Year in 1994. He also managed the San Francisco Giants from 2003-2006. In 2015 he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and 2016, Alou was elected to the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame.
Chicago Cubs farmhand Ian Happ was a star in the Arizona Fall League championship. He went four for four including two home runs (one from each side of the plate) a double, single, and three RBI in Mesa's 6-1 win. Happ a switch-hitter has played all three outfield positions, and second base in his brief minor league career. He was the third accomplished college bat the Cubs drafted in the first round with Kris Bryant in 2013, Kyle Schwarber 2014, and Happ in 2015.
He started the 2016 season in the Carolina League (high A) with Myrtle Beach, but finish the season at AA Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League. He hit 15 home runs with 73 RBI, and slashed .279/.365/.445 for his combined totals between both stops.
Happ has some work to do before he makes his debut on the defensive side of his game, but could be another tool in the chest of Cubs manager Joe Maddon in the near future.