- Shortstop, Second base
Class of 2011
2nd Baseman, Shortstop
Chippewa Falls Centralites 1949-50; Hamilton Chevrolets 1951-55
The premier league slugger of his day, Howie Prince was a hard-hitting middle infielder whose prowess with a wood bat enabled him to become one of only seven hitters in CRBL history to win a triple crown.
In his rookie season of 1949, Howie slammed 3 home runs in just 12 games for the Chippewa Falls Centralites. His powerful stick helped fuel the Centralites to a 10 and 4 record and the Chippewa Valley League championship game, where they whipped Tilden 9 to 1 for the title.
1950 was Prince’s breakout year, as he banged league high totals of 23 hits and 19 RBI’s to accentuate a .371 average for the 9 and 5 Centralites. The aforementioned triple crown was accomplished in 1951. At that time, Prince was only the third hitter in league play to lay claim to such a distinction. In 18 games during the 1951 season, Howie pounded out a Chippewa Valley League topping .371 average (29 for 50) to go along with other CVL bests of 4 homeruns, 23 RBI’s, 29 hits, and 7 doubles. With Howie’s hammer in the middle of the line-up, the first-year Hamilton Chevrolets rolled to a 13 and 5 record and a 4-3 championship game victory over the Tigers of Tilden.
In 1952, Prince laced a .471 average and a league best 5 doubles, but lost out in the batting race to Rick Jaenstch of Leif’s Conoco Oilers and his .524 (22 for 42) tally.
The Hamilton Chevrolets captured another CVL crown in 1954, with Howie’s .304 (17 for 56) average and league pacing 5 doubles contributing on a path to beating the Lake Hallie Lakers 9 to 4 in the title bout.
1955 saw Prince and Hamilton in even better form. In his last year of league battles, Howie hit .349 with 5 doubles, 3 home runs, 21 RBI’s, and 21 runs scored as the powerful Chevs shined with an 11 and 1 league record and a repeat championship game victory over the same Lake Hallie Lakers, this time by an 11 to 1 score
Clearly, Prince’s time in CRBL history was one thick with individual and team success. In addition to the triple crown and other statistical high points, the slugging middle infielder played in five All-Star games, nearly two decades before the advent of the annual All-CRBL team. The two organizations he suited up for won a total of four league championships and posted a .610 regular season winning percentage by winning 61 games and losing only 30.
With the CRBL finishing its 31st year of play in 1955, Howie stepped away as the circuit’s all-time home run king. Although no longer found on any Top 50 list, Prince’s seven year career shines on a comparative level with today’s wood bat wielding hitters of the CRBL.
In being elected to the CRBL Hall of Fame, Howie joins his father and league pitching great Jim Prince who was inducted in the Inaugural Class of 2009.