Sadly Howie passed away last Friday. He was a good man and a central park legend. He was very well liked/loved by most who knew him and that was evident in his time of need when many players, no players is the wrong word, friends is a better choice, unselfishly gave their time, money, and heart to help him when he needed help the most.
Special guest writer Jimmy Bitros, a friend of Howie for over 20 years, wrote the following Tribute to this good man.
"Most of you reading this blog probably never played ball with, never knew, and likely never heard of Howie Dixon. But to those who did know Howie, his tragic death last Friday from cancer will change us forever. He was a kind and gentle man with a mischievous edgy side that never failed to get a laugh on or off the softball field.
He perfected the art of stepping in and out of the batters box between pitches in what is now known as the "Howie Shuffle". But when he focused, Howie was a pesky hitter who always seemed to come through when it counted.Howie was not a young man but when he had a bat in his hand you never took him for granted. He was not an easy out and wore pitchers down with foul balls until he saw something he liked. Then he usually made the most of it. In fact, as ill as he was, just about 3 months ago, in early May, on the very last at bat of his life, he hit a line drive single right up the middle. And then, sadly, Howie did what Howie never did before, he asked for a courtesy runner. He was just too tired and weak to run the bases.
Even when he hit ground balls to the infield he would streak down the line to first base like a man 30 years younger. And on many occasions, I heard a player say "Do you believe how fast Howie is? How old is he anyway?"
Most importantly, Howie was an interesting guy who could talk to anybody about almost anything from baseball and the old negro league to boxing and pop culture. His personality would actually change depending on who he was sitting with at the time. Howie could also drive you crazy during the game. Between his endless good-natured chatter, his Howie Shuffle, and his Pete Rose type stance, every one of Howie's at bats was an adventure.
Most of all Howie loved being behind the plate in his catcher's gear,arguing calls with the umpire (he and Charlie were very close), distracting batters with his chatter and giving birth to the loving phrase, "Howie Shut The Fuck Up!"
Howie Dixon will be missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to know him. And the longer he is gone, the more we will miss him.
Howie was the kind of Friend that got under your skin... in a good way.. a very good way! So even if you didn't know, never met or even heard of Howie Dixon, you may now better understand why he will be missed by those that did. God Bless Howie Dixon."
Thank you Jimmy. That was perfect. Your the Man.
Howie's wake will take place on Wednesday, August 18 at Owen's Funeral Home, 216 Lenox Avenue at 121st Street from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm followed by services from 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
As a special Tribute a very sad insider will keep this post up the next 2 days without interruption in his honor b/c it is so much more than a game.
Rest In Peace Howie