Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ANOTHER new baseball PC: Steve Howe

After showing off my completed Lary Sorensen collection not that long ago, which included reading about his shameful drinking habits, I decided to go ahead with collecting his fellow Michigan antihero, Steve Howe.  I put together Howe's checklist, noted which ones I already owned, then picked up a bunch on Justcommons (which I'll be showing off another day).  Then I totally forgot about putting up a post formally announcing I was collecting him, linking to his album and checklist, and showing off the small number of cards of his I have.  Well, I guess it counts that I finally remembered today!

First, a quick (or not-so-much) background:  Steve was the Dodgers' first first-round pick in 1979 (they had two), and that round was actually stocked with Wolverines, including blog favorite Rick Leach plus pitcher Steve Perry.  He proved a quick study and made 59 appearances for the 1980 Dodgers, saving 17 games (a rookie record at the time) on the way to the N.L. ROY award (number two in a string of four for L.A., just like they pulled off in the mid-90s!).  The following year was even better for his team as the Dodgers won it all, with Steve earning a win and save against the runner-up Yankees.

Other than that, things were very up-and-down for Howe due to alcohol and drugs, for which he was suspended a ridiculous SEVEN times after originally checking himself into rehab.  The sport goes WAY out of its way to give these players more chances than they deserve (see:  Hamilton, Josh), and Steve definitely proved to be a lost cause, killed after he rolled his truck over, possibly while on meth, in 2006.  He did manage to carve out 12 seasons between 1980-1996, missing 1984, 1986, and 1988-1990 due to suspensions.  Part of his '85 season was spent with the Twins while the Rangers took a chance on him two years later; he then spent the rest of his career, 1991-96, with the Yankees.

In the end he was a sold-to-above average relief pitcher and a poor excuse for a role model.  As with Sorensen it's hard to reconcile the pitching skills and Michigan affiliation with the terrible things he did outside of baseball, but again I choose to collect the player while being fully aware of his faults.

With the downer portion of the post out of the way, here's my small starter collection of Howe:
Steve Howe 1983 Donruss
Here's a young Steve on a Donruss issue from early in his career, and being that it's an '83 card it includes his stats from his lone All-Star season of 1982.  
Steve Howe 1988 Donruss
This Donruss base card is one of three (Score and Score Glossy from that year) to depict him as a Ranger.  He appeared in 24 games with them in '87 but didn't put up much in the way of interesting stats.
Steve Howe 1991 Stadium Club
As I said, Steve finished his career with the Yanks from 1991-96, so he doesn't actually have any 1990 stats for the back (he gets a vague "NONE" instead).  As usual with this set, the back also includes an image of his Topps RC, in his case from 1981.
Steve Howe 1994 Topps
1993 wasn't an especially exciting year for Howe, but at least he got a pretty decent photo on his '94 flagship base card.
Steve Howe 1995 Pinnacle
Ah, '95 Pinnacle--one of my favorite sets ever.  In 40 1994 appearances Steve went 3-0 with his third best save total, 15, good enough to get him included in this set.
Steve Howe 1995 Topps
Howe's 1995 issues, like this Topps flagship base, were his final base cards, though he did get Bronze/Silver/Gold autographs in 1996 Leaf Signature, a product notorious for its enormous checklist mostly comprising journeymen like Howe.

Those six represent my current collection of Howe, with the '88 Donruss, '94 and '95 Topps, and '95 Pinnacle cards coming by way of my complete sets.  I believe both of the other two came from trades with Doug, though I can't recall for certain.

Anyway, you can follow my progress by keeping tabs on Steve's album and checklist, both of which can be found, as always, on my player collections page.  And stay tuned for the aforementioned Justcommons pickups in a future post, along with some other Wolverines!


  1. Baseball really needs to do a better job in getting these guys help. The Hamilton thing is especially frustrating because the Angels are acting like jackasses and only talking about how they can get away from his contract rather than making sure he doesn't relapse again.

    1. Yeah, it's not a good look for anybody. And Hamilton sounds like a jackass pretty much anytime he opens his mouth, especially recently in blaming leaving Texas on his wife. Dude needs some serious time away from baseball to get his life together.