The Angels released veteran third baseman Doug DeCinces late in 1987 to give a position to lefthanded-hitting Jack Howell, who had spent that season playing third, second, and the outfield and had hit 23 HR. One of those homers was a broken-bat shot in Yankee Stadium that confirmed for many that the 1987 ball was juiced up.
Bothered by a thumb injury for much of 1988, Howell put up only mediocre numbers (.254, 16 HR, 63 RBI). He slumped even more over the next two seasons and in July 1991 was dealt to San Diego for Shawn Abner.
Howell moved to Japan in 1992 and made an immediate impression, leading the league with a .331 average and 38 homers for the Yakult Swallows. He returned to the Angels in 1996, and set a team record with four pinch-hit homers. But Howell always struggled badly against left-handed pitching, and he never advanced past a platoon role in his second major-league stint.
After slugging 14 homers in 77 games for Anaheim in 1997, Howell moved to Houston but broke his wrist early on in 1998. He wrapped up his major-league career with two injury-plagued seasons with the Astros.
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»June 16, 1986: Rangers knuckleballer Charlie Hough pitches a one-hitter against the Angels but loses 2–1. With two outs to go for a no-hitter, George Wright drops Jack Howell's fly ball for an error. A single ties the score, and two passed balls by Orlando Mercado bring the 2nd runner around.