Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sad Story Of Steve Howe

Left-hander Steve Howe was suspended from baseball for drug abuse seven times over a career that spanned 17 years. Photo Credit: Getty Images

In another day, I pass the hallmark of being clean and sober for 14 years.

Steve Howe was a phenomenon as a pitcher, a great team player, and a good friend to those who knew him. Addiction robs the greatness in all of us. Every human being has the potential in them to have a story of continued struggle that Steve Howe had.

I post this item as an example and in homage to the powerful horror of addiction and how brutal it can be. Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer and it harms anyone who is or knows and cares for anyone who is addicted. Addiction casts a large net.

Excerpts from AP via Sports Illustrated -

Steve Howe killed in truck accident
Posted: Friday April 28, 2006 6:58PM; Updated: Friday April 28, 2006 10:27PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Steve Howe, the relief pitcher whose promising career was derailed by cocaine and alcohol abuse, died Friday when his pickup truck rolled over in Coachella, Calif. He was 48.

Howe was killed at 5:55 a.m. PDT about 130 miles east of Los Angeles, said Dalyn Backes of the Riverside County coroner's office. He had been in Arizona on business and was driving back home to Valencia, Calif., business partner Judy Welp said.

Toxicology tests had not yet been performed.

The hard-throwing lefty was the 1980 NL Rookie of the Year with Los Angeles, closed out the Dodgers' 1981 World Series championship and was an All-Star the next year.

But for all of his success on the field, Howe was constantly troubled by addictions -- he was suspended seven times and became a symbol of the rampant cocaine problem that plagued baseball in the 1980s.

During the 1992 season, he became the first baseball player to be banned for life because of drugs. An arbitrator reinstated him after the season.

In recent years, he owned an energy drink company in Arizona.

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Two days after the Yankees let him go in 1996, Howe was arrested at a Delta Airlines terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport when a loaded .357 Magnum was detected inside his suitcase. He later pleaded guilty to gun possession and was placed on three years' probation and given 150 hours of community service.

Chicago White Sox coach Tim Raines played with Howe in that final year.

"You always get second chances -- third and fourth sometimes. And people really believed in him and that he'd eventually kick the problem. Unfortunately, it didn't happen for him," he said.

Howe tried a comeback in 1997 with Sioux Falls of the independent Northern League and retired after injuring his forearm. That August, he was critically injured in a motorcycle accident in Montana and charged with drunken driving; those charges were later dropped when prosecutors decided his blood test was improperly obtained.

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Howe was suspended for the 1984 season by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for cocaine use. Howe was out of the majors in 1986 after a relapse the previous August with Minnesota.

Texas released him before the 1988 season because of an alcohol problem, and he did not pitch again in the big leagues until 1991.

"Howsie had some issues everybody knew about," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said in San Francisco. "Everybody who hasn't played with him didn't know what kind of teammate he was. What you hear about Steve is the drug stuff. ... He was kind of the captain of the bullpen out there."

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Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow played against Howe in the NL West.

"When I heard it today, I thought 'What a life this guy had,"' Krukow said, his eyes red. "So many tragic things happened to him in a young 48 years. Maybe he's at peace. He was the nicest guy in the world but he had some demons, unfortunately."

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Howe was 7-9 with 17 saves in 1980, pitching in 59 games as a major part of the Dodgers' bullpen. He played for Los Angeles through the 1983 season.

"He had a lot of talent and his heart was in the right place," former teammate Steve Sax said. "He meant well. He had a lot of opportunities. He just had a lot of problems that he couldn't solve."

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Howe was survived by his wife, Cindy, daughter Chelsi and son Brian.
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Prayers for those who suffer from addiction, may a higher power find them now.

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