The recent post on Yogi reminded me of an even earlier New York baseball player who seems to have influenced the charts. He wasn’t a Yankee, though — he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers (now the Los Angeles Dodgers).
- 1946: 8 baby boys named Howie – 6 in New York
- 1945: 7 baby boys named Howie
- 1944: unlisted
- 1943: 10 baby boys named Howie [debut] – 5 in New York
- 1942: unlisted
The heavy New York usage makes me think the influence was Howard Henry “Howie” Schultz, a 6′ 6″ two-sport professional athlete who played first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers starting in August of 1943. The day after his impressive debut, the New York Times referred to him in a sub-headline that read: “First Sacker Wins Fans.” (“First sacker” is an old fashioned way of saying “first baseman.”)
Schultz also played a notable part in the first game of the 1946 National League tie-breaker series. This matches up nicely with the fact that 75% of the 1946 Howies were again born in New York.
That said…I’m not 100% certain Howie Schultz is the influence here. He’s my best theory so far, but just in case: Does anyone out there have any other theories about who/what might have popularized the name Howie circa 1943?
P.S. The other sport Schultz played professionally? Basketball. He was on several different teams in the ’40s and early ’50s, including the championship-winning 1952 Minneapolis Lakers (now the Los Angeles Lakers).