1987 Topps - 391 - Jay Howell
1987 Topps Autograph Collecting Baseball

391 – 1987 Topps – Jay Howell

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The Cincinnati Reds drafted Jay Howell in the twelfth round of the 1973 free-agent draft. He did not sign, and the Reds selected him in the thirty-first round of the 1976 draft. Howell played his college baseball for the University of Colorado. Previously, he played prep baseball for Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado. His major league début came on August 10, 1980, pitching the ninth inning in relief of Paul Moskau. He gave up no hits and no runs in his début, hitting Steve Garvey as his only base runner, as the Reds lost to the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium.

Jay Howell Career

Jay Howell spent 15 years on a major league roster, working as a relief pitcher and closer for the bulk of his career. Appearing in 568 games over the course of his career, he has a career ERA of 3.34, with 155 Saves and 844.2 innings pitched. Over the course of his career, he has a strike out to walk ratio of 2.29. Howell won a World Series ring with the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, and was a two-time All-Star, in 1987 with the Oakland As and 1989 with the Dodgers.

1988 World Series

Howell’s story to winning a World Series is one that surely cannot happen very often. The A’s traded the closer to the Dodgers before the 1988 season. When they met in the series, the odds heavily favored the Athletics. However, with a lot of small ball from the Dodgers, they beat the A’s in five games. Jay Howell appeared in two. He gave up Mark McGwire’s only hit in the series, a walk-off home-run in Game 3. Tommy Lasorda trusted him to take the bump a second time the next night.

His appearance in Game 4 appeared spotty as well, walking Jose Conseco, and Dave Parker reached on an error to juice the bases. That lead to McGwire stepping in. One pitch, one swing, one fly ball in foul territory, and Howell’s redemption appeared. Though he gave up some singles, he did not allow a run. Securing the save led to Orel Hershiser’s game 5 win for the series.

Trades and Transfers

Reds Years

Jay Howell spent the first four years of his professional career playing in the Reds farm system. He saw time with the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League, the Tampa Tarpons of the Florida League, the Nashville Sounds of the Southern League and the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association. Prior to his August 1980 call-up to the Reds, he played that season in Indianapolis as well.

Cubs and Yankees Years

The Reds traded him to the Chicago Cubs on October 17, 1980, receiving Mike O’Berry in return. He appeared in 10 total games with the Cubs in 1981, spending the bulk of the season with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs of the American Association. n August 2, 1982, the Cubs sent him to the New York Yankees as a player to be named later to complete the trade of Pat Tabler to the Cubs. He finished out the 1982 season spending time with the Columbus Clippers and a few games with the Yankees.

Athletics and Dodgers

Following two solid season with the Yankees, he found himself packaged with Stan Javier, Jose Rijo, Eric Plunk, and Tim Birtsas and sent to the Oakland Athletics. In exchange, the Yankees received Rickey Henderson, Bert Bradley, and cash considerations on December 5, 1984. He had a short rehab assignment with the Modesto A’s of the California League in 1986.

On December 11, 1987, Jay Howell found himself part of a three team complicated trade, in which he wound up in Dodger Blue.

Oakland A's SendJay HowellAlfredo GriffinL.A. Dodgers
Oakland A's SendKevin TapaniWally WhitehurstNY Mets
LA Dodgers SendJack SavageNY Mets
LA Dodgers SendBob WelchMatt YoungOakland A's
NY Mets SendJesse OroscoLA Dodgers


Jay Howell stayed with the Dodgers until he became a free agent in November of 1992, making brief stops with the Vero Beach Dodgers of the Florida League and the Bakersfield Dodgers of the California League during that season. He spent 1993 with the Atlanta Braves. He finished out his professional baseball career as a free-agent with the Texas Rangers in 1994, and found himself out of baseball following that season.

Signed Card

1987 Topps - 391 - Jay Howell
1987 Topps – 391 – Jay Howell

Though photographers were using high-speed 35 mm cameras by 1987, the portrait choices for this set harken back to a lot of little league style poses. Card 391 features Jay Howell holding his mitt and staring at the camera with the sun side lighting the subject. Like most of the portraits from this set, it appears to be taken during spring training at one of the training ball parks in the Arizona League. He is dressed in road greens, so no idea which stadium this was actually taken at. A strong black sharpie signature adds life to this otherwise bland and boring card. The saving grace is that it is not the three-quarter’s kneeling pose his cohort Chris Codiroli was saddled with.

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David Mitchner
Dave loves sports. He discusses sports and religion all the time. He's also collected autographs since the early '90s when he wrote to a couple of baseball players. He loves Historical Fencing, Mixed Martial Arts, and trying to raise his 2 year old on the family farm.

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