He then drew praise from his manager Joe Vavra, The Tribune wrote.
"You never see that kid not hustle," Vavra told The Tribune after Howard helped turn two critical double plays and took an extra base late that put him in the position to score the game-winning run. "Howard makes the double play as well as anybody. He plays heads-up."
Howard hustled that day in his first season as a pro. He went on to hustle his way to the majors, seven years later, with the Yankees.
He saw 35 big league games and his double play work even helped future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera earn his very first major league save.
Howard's career began that year in 1989, taken by the Dodgers in the 34th round round of the draft out of Pepperdine.
Howard started with the Dodgers at Great Falls. He hit .333 in 59 games. He then made high-A Bakersfield got 1990 and high-A Vero Beach for 1991.
He made AA San Antonio and AAA Albuquerque for 1992. He hit .275 in the year. He then repeated the two levels in a shortened 1993 and played all of 1994 at Albuquerque.
Howard played 1995 with the Orioles at AA Bowie, then, for 1996, he signed with the Yankees.
Howard got into 35 games for the Yankees that year. He hit .228, with one home run and a stolen base.
“The first time walking down the tunnel at Yankee Stadium was unbelievable," Howard told WickedLocal.com years later. "I loved playing at Fenway Park. I faced (Roger) Clemens in his last year in Boston and I got a hit and an RBI off him."
Howard then played three more seasons back at AAA, 1997 at AAA Columbus with the Yankees, 1998 at AAA Fresno with the Giants and 1999 at AAA Nashville with the Pirates, to end his career.
- Great Falls Tribune, Aug. 7, 1989: Dodgers continue flight to top with late rally
- WickedLocal.com, July 25, 2013: Fall River-born Matt Howard was part of Yankee history in 1996
Made the Majors:1,212-35.1%-X
Never Made Majors:2,244-64.9%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:503
10+ Seasons in the Minors:296