Many will recall Art Howe as a major league baseball player and manager for several teams including the Oakland A’s whom he guided to the playoffs in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
But long before Mr. Howe’s emergence there was another Art Howe who made his bones on the football field. This other Art Howe is not related to the baseball player but has a shared lineage of passion, grit, and achievement.
The 5-foot-10, 153-pound Arthur Howe played quarterback for Yale from 1909 until 1911. He was an All-American and helped the Bulldogs win the ’09 national championship on a team that didn’t give up a single point, including an 8-0 season-ending thumping of Harvard. In 1910 he threw the winning touchdown pass against Princeton in a 5-3 upset. (TDs were just five points back then.)
The next year against Princeton Howe set a national record by returning 18 kicks. However, Yale lost to the Tigers, 6-3, on that muddy November day in part because Howe is said to have missed six of his seven field goal attempts, connecting only on a 30-yarder.
He was probably a little tired.
Howe was also one of the nation’s best collegiate hockey players and was regarded – according to Wikipedia via the Boston Globe archives – as one of the strongest men on campus.
Howe graduated from Yale in the spring of 1912 and returned that fall as head coach of the Bulldogs, achieving a record of 7-0-1. One of his players was Walter Camp, Junior, the son of the legendary Yale coach who is considered one of the fathers of American football.
Art Howe coached just one season in New Haven, as Yale changed coaches nearly every year in those days, not having to worry about continuity for recruiting, TV contracts or conference realignment.
After Yale, Howe became a Presbyterian minister and went on to serve as a teacher and administrator at various schools including Hampton. He was married and had four sons, including one named Arthur Jr. who followed in his father’s footsteps by attending and working at Yale and also served with distinguish in World War II.
Last spring Fay Vincent, the former commissioner of baseball, wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal in which he remembers the Yale class of 1912 returning to campus in 1962 for a 50th reunion. Vincent noted that those men of ‘12 were caught in a unique, painful era. They knew old men who had fought in the Civil War. Some of those men who graduated in 1912 then fought in World War I and also, like Art Howe, sent their children to World War II and Korea. By 1962, nuclear weapons terrified the world and the Vietnam War was lurking.
Art Howe was not at his 50th reunion, having died in 1955 (and was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1973.) Certainly the men at that 1962 reunion talked about their old friend Art Howe, the one who had been voted the outstanding member of his class. Certainly they looked at the football field and the statues on the Yale campus and thought about those they had lost to war and to time. They must have looked at the young kids of 1962 and thought about their precious days of 1912.
They remembered their quarterback. A muddy field of memories. A silent huddle.