GOOSE LAKE -- This game -- whether by a walk-off homer or a game-ending strikeout -- can end in the blink of an eye.
True to life.
A minor leaguer with the New York Mets franchise, Tyler Howe’s career was on the rise in spring 2010. A 2008 draft pick, he had converted from catcher to pitcher a season before after playing NCAA Division-I baseball at the University of Kentucky.
“In 2009, I didn’t give up a run,” Howe said. “Then I was going into spring training as a closer. I was doing real well -- working out with a couple of higher groups.
“Then, on the last day of spring training, in an exhibition game, I popped my elbow.”
In the blink of an eye, Howe’s career was doomed. The injury forced him to have Tommy John’s surgery, the proverbial death sentence for professional pitchers. Howe tried to rehabilitate the injury, but after two years of fighting his way back, decided he had enough.
The day before he was set to have a second surgery, Howe decided to leave the game.
“I retired on July 4, 2012. My surgery was scheduled for July 5 in New York City,” he said.
That experience taught Howe, now the head baseball coach at Northeast, a valuable lesson: Take nothing for granted. Closing a career to injury might have left anyone bitter, but not him.
“I love the game,” Howe said. “Honestly, I can’t imagine life without the game. Baseball’s given me a lot in life as far as all the different teams I was able to play on... It was my time to start giving back to the game.”
At 27, he’s less than 10 years older than his oldest players, whom he met only five months ago. Howe stressed getting his inherited seniors on board with hopes of getting the rest of the team to buy into him as a new coach.