Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Remembering Howie Dixon

Remembering Howie Dixon

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.

Tribute

"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

16 comments:

  1. Well said. After playing in Central Park for about 13 years, the guys that I've played softball with and come to know are more then just other players(as Ricky pointed out), they are like an extended family. And in losing Howie we all lost a piece of that. Thanks again to Jimmy for taking a moment and putting it to words.

    -Chuck Ricciardi/Express

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  2. My most consistent memory of Howie, other than his very particular style at the plate (take first pitch, crouch until 2 strikes, fight off pitches until he could line sonething to the right side), is his smile -- I played with him for 5 years and I can't remember a time when he wasn't happy, happy to be at Hecksher or the Great Lawn, holding court, enjoying the guys and playing ball.

    Though he would argue a call from time to time, I never heard him utter a word in anger. In a very real way, he set a standard for the perfect gentleman player.

    I will miss him.

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  3. Perfect tribute to an almost perfect man...not perfect but a great human being and a good example of when you are humble people will love you.
    Rest in peace!!!uncle howie.


    Ralph Serrano,diesel express

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  4. I had the opportunity to play Fridays with Jimmy Bitros years ago and in doing so I was able to meet Howie.

    Simply said, a class act, set a great example as for how the game should be played and how we should carry ourselves.

    RIP, I am sure the big man will pick you first to play on his team. :)

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  5. RIP Howie. Thanks for the memories and for inspiring those who have been lucky to play alongside you. Hope we ALL can play the way Howie did at 70! You will be missed.

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  6. Beautiful photos and poignant words for one of the most admirable men I've ever had the pleasure to know. Thank you for posting this tribute!

    - Diana

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  7. I will never forget the guy behind the smile. Will miss you forever Howie. Johnny castillo

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  8. He will be missed.

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  9. I just read Jimmy's tribute to Howie and was pleasantly surprised at how he captured his personality so vividly. Although I didn't get the chance to play with Howie frequently I remembered some of the traits Jimmy described in his tribute. Howie was a good man with a good heart and I'll miss seeing him in Central Park. May he rest in peace.

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  10. I will mis Howie.

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