Feb 7, 2018

The Sixteenth Manager In Mets History: Art Howe (2003-2004)

Arthur Henry Howe Jr. was born on December 15, 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The six foot two infielder was signed by the hometown Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971, out of the University of Wyoming becoming only one of three MLB players to come from that school.

He was promoted to AAA by 1972 & two years later was batting .338 getting a July call up to the Pirates NL Eastern Division winning team. He saw limited playing time over two seasons before getting traded to the Houston Astros for short stop Tommy Helms.

In 1976 he only played 21 games and couldn’t hit anything, posting a .171 batting average. By 1977 he became the Astros main second baseman (96 games) posting the leagues 4th best on base % (.985) while also playing at third (19 games) & short (11 games). He hit .264 with 8 HRs 23 doubles & 58 RBIs while donning the classic Astros colorful tick striped uniforms of the late seventies.

Howe had a good year in 1978 batting .293 with a .343 on base %, posting career highs in doubles (33) & RBIs (55) while playing at second base. In 1979 he dropped to a .248 batting average, as he began a transition over to playing third base. Howe was never a power hitter, hitting a career high 10 HRs in 1980 as he brought his average up to .283.

The Astros made the post season for the first time in 1980 with players like Joe Morgan, Cesar Cedeno, Jose Cruz & Terry Puhl. Howe batting .283 posting a .350 on base %. Thier staff wa led by Joe Niekro (20-12) Nolan Ryan (11-10) & J.R. Richard (10-4).

Post Season: Howe went 3-15 in the 1980 NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting a triple , double while driving in two runs. He only batted .200 that post season (3-15).

The Astros got a repeat visit to the post season the next year, in the strike shortened 1981 season. Howe batting a career best .296 with a .365 on base % in 1981. Although he only hit three HRs with 36 RBIs he did hit 22 doubles. At third base he put up the league’s second best fielding % (.966) making 206 assists (third in the NL).

Post Season: In the 1981 NLDS against the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers he only hit .188 (3-16) In Game #3 he got one of three Astro hits with a HR off Burt Hooton. Howe was (6-32) in his post season career.

He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1984 but only batted .216 and ended his playing career after four games in 1985. Howe finished his 11 year career, batting .260 with 682 career hits 139 doubles 43 HRs 293 RBIs& a .329 on base % in 891 games played. At third base he played 400 games with a .965 fielding %.

Retirement: After his playing days Howe became was a coach under Bobby Valentine with the Texas Rangers for three seasons.

He then got the job with his old Astros team, as manager from 1989 to 1993. There he finished in third place in his first season (1989) then fell to fifth & sixth place. He finished third again in his fifth season (1993) which was his last in Houston. He was replaced by future Mets manager Terry Collins.

From there he became the Colorado Rockies bench coach for 1995. In 1996 he replaced Tony Larussa in Oakland enjoying success there from 1996 through 2002. In small market Oakland his teams got better each year. Under General Manager Billy Beane, the Athletics became famous for a style of assembling a team known as Moneyball. Using players with good on base percentages & pitchers with quality innings.

Howe was liked & respected by the players, and in 2011 when the movie Moneyball was made he was portrayed in a more selfish way. Howe was livid over his portrayal in the film.

Howe's Oakland A's won two division titles, (2000 & 2002) with one wild card berth in 2001 as well. He posted 100 win seasons twice, both coming in his last two seasons as manager. Although the Athletics lost the ALDS in all three appearances they made under Howe, the seasons with the teams low payroll's must be looked at as successful. Howe was eventually replaced by his bench coach Ken Macha after the 2002 season.

Art Howe was hired by the New York Mets as the 16th manager in their history for the 2003 season. The Art Howe era didn't turn out to be as successful as his run in the San Francisco Bay Area.

His tenure in New York was a disaster, in his first season the Mets fell to a 66-95 record finishing 34 games behind the Atlanta Braves in fifth place. The next season there wasn’t much improvement, as the team finished fourth 71-91, this time 25 games out of first place. In Howe’s two seasons at Shea, the Mets only won 42% of their games going 137-186.

The team went through Steve Phillips, Jim Duquette & Omar Minaya as General Managers during Howe's managerial days. Attendance fell off at Shea Stadium, and Howe was through after two seasons. The team was going to wait for the season to end before firing Howe, but the word leaked out and GM Jim Duquette had to act sooner. Howe finished out the season and was replaced by Willie Randolph in 2005.

After New York, Howe served as third base coach for the Philadelphia Phillies then bench coach for the Texas Rangers in 2007-2008. In his managerial career he was 1129-1137 (.498%) making three playoff appearances.

Family: Howe has been married to his high school sweetheart Betty, for over forty years.

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