The Craig Biggio Memory Tour Brings Us to Art Howe

Craig Biggio's election to the Baseball Hall of Fame got me to thinking about Biggio's early years in the majors, and the switch he made from catcher to second base. Art Howe was the Astros manager at this time, and he was the one tasked with implementing general manager Bill Wood's vision for prolonging Biggio's career while still allowing the team to make the best use of Biggio's abilities.

The popular perception of Art Howe is a grotesque caricature from the movie Moneyball that was cobbled together by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bennett Miller, and Aaron Sorkin (and if you ask Howe, Billy Beane). He's the old-fashioned baseball guy who can't grasp the genius of his boss Billy Beane and refuses to acknowledge the usefulness of statistics. He's obsessed with getting a contract extension, he won't play Scott Hatteberg, and he's a credit hog who eagerly accepts the accolades for the great season put together by the 2002 Oakland A's.

This perception is, of course, wrong. Art Howe and Billy Beane had issues and a sometimes contentious working relationship. But Howe managed the A's for seven seasons, guiding the team to the playoffs his last three. He didn't obsess over his contract, and he did play Hatteberg. But every movie needs a villain, and the filmmakers of Moneyball decided that Howe's character was the one best suited to voice the baseball establishment's views of Beane and his crazy idea -- Michael Lewis' book does Howe no favors in that it fashions Howe as a clueless button-pusher following Beane's commands.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal