Goodness, it has been about a month since I have posted the card of the day over. Its been nice for Don Aase as he had a nice long run as the card of the day (3 weeks is a very long day), but now it is time to move on (finally!) and catch up with card #lucky 13 of Houston Astros infielder Art Howe. Take away the ridiculous rocket ship, Popsicle costume that they wore in Houston back then and there isn’t too much grooviness going on with this card. Sure he has sideburns, but they aren’t out of control-there’s no afro, no wild sun glasses, no hippies dancing in the background, just a gritty infielder wearing a shirt that he might possibly have borrowed from Rainbow Brite. Howe was signed by the Pirates out of the University of Wyoming in 1971 and he spent parts of 5 seasons in their minor league system compiling a .304 batting average. Before the ’76 began he was sent over to the Astros as the player to be named later in the deal that had sent Tommy Helms to the Pirates. Helms and Howe were very similar players, but Howe was 29 and Helms was 35 and on his way out. Howe split the ’76 season between the big leagues and AAA (where he hit .355 in 74 games) and was up to stay in 1977. The Astros were an even .500 team (81-81) and Art Howe became their everyday second baseman, but also played shortstop and 3rd base on occasion. In ’77 he hit .264 with 8 homers and 58 runs batted in. His total of 58 RBI would be his best over his 11 year career. He would spend 7 seasons in Houston’s infield, playing all 4 positions, but mainly 2nd and 3rd base. The Astros made the playoffs twice during his tenure, in 1980 and 1981. Both times they were eliminated in the ALCS. Howe didn’t have a very successful go in the playoffs-his career postseason batting average is .188 over 32 at-bats. He did hit a home run in the 1981 NLCS off of Burt Hooton in game 3. It would be Houston’s only run as they lost to the Dodgers 6-1 in that game. They lost the playoff in 5 games. That year (1981) Howe appeared on MVP ballots and came in 18th place for the award. He finished ahead of Tim Raines (.304/74 steals) somehow. Art Howe batted .296 with 3 homers and 36 RBI that year. He became a free agent and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1984 and played in 89 games at all 4 infield positions for them. He was released the following year after playing in just 4 games. Over his 11 year big league career Howe batted .260 with 682 hits, 39 homers and 266 RBI. After his retirement as a player Art Howe got into coaching in 1985 as the batting coach for the Texas Rangers. He held that post until 1988 and eventually became the manager of his former team, the Houston Astros from 1989-1993. His best season was his first when the Astros went 86-76 for a third place finish. They would also finish 3rd in his final season in Houston. After the Astros he managed the Oakland As from 1996-2002. The A’s made the playoffs in each of his last 3 seasons, but never made it past the ALCS. He would also manage the New York Mets in 2003 and 2004, but he failed to post a winning record. Now, onto…
The Nitty Gritty
Name/Number: Art Howe/18
Age-Now and Then:62/31
Team’s 1977 Record: 81-81
Topps Rookie Card: This is it. 1978 Topps card #13.
Number of Topps Base Cards: 8
1977 Stats Line: .264/8/58
Awards in 1977: Starting 2nd baseman job
Distinguishing Feature: His skippy sideburns.
Similar Modern Player: Jerry Hairston Jr.
What I said about this card then: Who wants it?
What I think about this card now: Your reading it…
Back of the card memorable moment: He hit a single in his first major league at-bat vs. the Braves on 6-10-1974.
Back of the card “fun fact”: In his first 71 at-bats at Charleston .1974, he had 17 extra base hits and a .451 average.
The condition: Near mint.
Grooviness factor: Calling that jersey anything other than groovy would be insulting.
Wow! Factor: There are actually a couple of fans in the stands in the background…
What’s weird about this card: That this is his rookie card. Topps normally issued one right after the cup of coffee.
Career Accolades: 11 years in the majors, a homerun in the playoffs. Won 1,129 games as a manager.
Best Season: 1978, .293/7/55
Nitty Gritty Fun Facts: Was the manager at the dawn of the Astros Killer Bs era.
Where are they now?: ??? He was the Texas Rangers bench coach through the 2008 season…
Okay, that wasn’t so bad. Glad that is out of the way, now we can move onto card #14 of Lerrin Lagrow! 31 years, LATER!