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.