Howard Albert Maple
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 7", Weight 175 lb.
- School Oregon State University
- High School Central High School (Peoria)
- Debut May 19, 1932
- Final Game September 18, 1932
- Born July 20, 1903 in Adrian, MO USA
- Died November 9, 1970 in Portland, OR USA
Howard Maple was a catcher for ten years (1926-1935), four in college (1926-1929); one full year in the majors (1932); and six in the minors (1929-1931; 1933-1935). In high school, Maple starred in baseball, basketball and football. He was one of the most amazing athletes ever to come out of Peoria. Playing at 5' 7" and 175 pounds, Maple was such a high school football star he was named captain of the All-State team.
He then attended Oregon State University (1926-1929), where he starred in baseball and football, and was a West Coast sensation. In his junior season in 1926, playing a brilliant quarterback on the football team, he was selected to the second team on four all-West Coast teams and was an honorable mention all-American on teams picked by famed coaches Knute Rockne and Pop Warner. The next season, he led the Beavers to an upset of heavily-favored New York University at Yankee Stadium to cap the football season. In his three years as the varsity catcher, he had a career batting average of .429 and was picked on six all-American second teams and was named to six all-West Coast first teams. He was a fine runner, an outstanding passer, an excellent kicker and a sure tackler on defense where he played safety. In 1930 he appeared in eight games with the Chicago Cardinals of the NFL as a wingback.
He broke into Organized Baseball in 1929 at age 25 in the Chicago White Sox farm system with the Springfield Senators in the Three-I League (.313) and Bloomington of the same league the next two years, batting .290 for the 1930 and .288. Maple was 28 years old when he broke into the big leagues on May 19, 1932, with the Washington Senators. He stayed the entire year with Washington in 1932 as a backup catcher, where he played his final MLB game on September 18, 1932 at age 26. In 1932, his only year in MLB, he had 10 hits, 6 runs, 0 doubles, 1 triples, 0 home runs, 7 RBI and 0 stolen bases at .244/.367/.293 in 44 games.
He then returned to the minors with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association (1933), hitting .273; Albany of the International League (1934) (.229); Harrisburg in the New York-Pennsylvania League (1934) (.300); and the Rock Island Islanders and Keokuk Indians in the Western League (1935), hitting .258, ending his baseball career at age 32. He was interim manager for Rock Island.
He later coached at both Oregon State and Willamette College (now Willamette University), being head basketball and track coach and assistant football coach at Willamette. The 1938-1939 Bearcats went 29-6 and won the Northwest Conference title with a record of 15-1. That squad, coached by Maple, won 15 straight games during the season. Willamette landed four starters on the all-Conference team.
Maple served in Alaska for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in World War II. He owned a sporting goods store in Salem, OR and a car dealership at Bend, OR. Later he worked for several Oregon city's Chambers of Commerce and managed the Oregon State Fair. He died at age 67 at Emanuel Hospital in Portland, OR from heart failure following a succesful hip replacement on November 9, 1970 and is buried at Belcrest Memorial Park in Salem.
Awards and Honors
- Named to Oregon Sports Hall of Fame as a football player, 1981
- Charter member of Peoria Hall of Fame
Principal sources for Howard Maple include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (none) (WW), old Baseball Registers (none) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) and The International League: Year-by-year Statistics, 1884-1953 by Marshall D. Wright and The Southern League: Baseball in Dixie, 1885-1994 by Bill O'Neal and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.