Volume 14, Issue 4 - July/August 2012
Major League Baseball Player at the Helm Chris Howard, JN Phillips
The assistant vice president of JN Phillips Auto Glass in Woburn, Mass., had a very different career before he entered the auto glass industry. Chris Howard was a left-handed relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and one of the former players recently recognized by the Red Sox at the 100th birthday of Fenway Park.
Howard says he started playing baseball when he was between 5 and 6 years old, just like any other kid. “My mother was the one who took me to the field when I was little,” he says. “My father was always working. My brothers also were pretty good ballplayers. I was fortunate to have a very good family.”
Even though he was pretty good at playing ball, he never really thought about playing professional baseball. “Those things kind of happened,” he says. “I never thought I was good enough.”
The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Howard in 1985 and then the New York Yankees in 1986, Howard says. “I grew up in Boston and the Yankees are a big rival, but they are a first-class organization, it was really cool,” he says.
Howard went to college at the University of Miami, and played Minor League with the Yankees and the Chicago White Sox for six years, before making his Major League debut with the Chicago White Sox in 1993. He then signed up with the Boston Red Sox in 1994, played for the team until 1995, and joined the Texas Rangers in 1996.
What are the big moments of glory that stand out in Howard’s baseball career? “First, the first time that I ever pitched in the big leagues, and second, the first time I ever pitched in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park,” he says. “I worked so hard to get there, and I finally got the chance. A lot of guys don’t get that chance even though they are good and they practice hard.”
In 1996, Howard sustained injuries and “that was the start of the end of my career,” he says. “I could not throw anymore, so I stopped playing in 1997.”
He describes the 1997 season as the lowest point of his career. “I was still young and could have been pitching if I didn’t have those injuries,” he says.
Nevertheless, “I’m proud that I had the chance to play for my hometown,” Howard says. “I was pretty successful pitching before I got hurt. I’m pretty proud of pitching in the big leagues. I had the opportunity to meet and play with a lot of great players, like Roger Clemens, David Winfield, Paul Molitor and Don Mattingly. I also got the opportunity to learn and talk pitching with Hall of Fame guys, such as Sandy Koufax.”
After baseball, Howard got into sales, selling ads for the Boston Red Sox radio station in 1998. He worked there for 18 months, then went to DHL, worked there for five years, and worked his way up to the area manager position. He joined JN Phillips as a regional sales manager after working at Rodenstock for four years, and has been with the company for eight years.
Howard says baseball has taught him valuable life lessons. “It taught me to appreciate what I have, to work hard and better myself constantly, and to never take anything for granted,” he says. “You’re only as good as the value of the team. And there will always be somebody better, if you’re not producing.”