Howard Willis Easterling
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 179 lb.
- Debut 1937
- Final Game 1946
- Born November 26, 1911 in Mount Olive, MS USA
- Died September 6, 1993 in Collins, MS USA
Howard Easterling was a productive Negro League hitter and 5-time All-Star.
Easterling debuted in 1936 with the Cincinnati Tigers, then hit .360 as their starting shortstop in 1937. He was chosen for the 1937 East-West Game, leading all shortstops with 22,786 votes. He was 0 for 2 with a walk for the West in a 7-2 loss that game. He moved to the Chicago American Giants in 1938.
In 1940, the switch-hitter moved to the Homestead Grays; in his time with Homestead, he usually preceded Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard in the lineup. He hit .313 in '40, second on the club behind Leonard, while manning third base. His 4 triples were tied for second in the Negro National League. He got 59,992 votes for the 1940 East-West Game, leading all third baseman. He was 2 for 5 with a run, RBI and triple as the #5 hitter for the East in the contest.
Howard hit .263 for Homestead in 1941 with 6 doubles, tying Leon Day, Jud Wilson and Leonard for 5th in the NNL. He was 6 for 10 in the postseason. He fell to .229 in 1942. He did improve to .313/.421/.500 in the 1942 Negro World Series.
He rebounded to bat .339 in 1943. That season, he was 5th in the NNL in average, tied Sammy Bankhead for second with 5 steals (one behind Jerry Benjamin), tied Bankhead for 3rd with 10 triples (behind Wilson and Leonard) and tied Bankhead for 11th with 11 doubles, well behind leader Gibson's 33. In the 1943 East-West Game, he hit 5th behind Leonard and Gibson while starting at third for the East. He was 1 for 4 in a 2-1 defeat. He then batted .280 in the 1943 Negro World Series.
Returning to the field after the War, Easterling showed he was still sharp, hitting .344 in 1946. In an exhibition series against Bob Lemon, Johnny Sain, Bob Feller, Spud Chandler and Dutch Leonard, he hit an even .300. He also starred in the first East-West Game of 1946, going 3 for 4 with 2 runs and a RBI, hitting third for the East and leading them to a 6-3 win. He was just 0 for 4 in the second East-West Game that year.
In 1951, Easterling came to the Mexican League at age 39. He showed no signs of age, batting .330/.406/.473 for the Monterrey Sultans He batted .379/.491/.563 in 22 games for Monterrey in '52. He wrapped up in 1954 by hitting .294/.321/.412 in the Mexican League.
- 4-time All-Star (1937/NAL, 1940/NNL, 1943/NNL & 1946/NNL)
- 2-time NNL Triples Leader (1940 & 1943)
- Won one Negro World Series with the Homestead Grays in 1943
- The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros
- Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo
- Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester
- The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley
- The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway
- The California Winter League by William McNeil