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Howe Is Late for the Game, Is Fined $300 by Lasorda

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Dodger pitcher Steve Howe didn’t arrive until the sixth inning of Sunday’s game against Houston at Dodger Stadium and was fined $300 by Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda. All parties involved insisted that Howe’s tardiness was the result of a mixup that left Howe stranded without a car at his home in Agoura.

Howe said his wife, Cyndy, took his car keys and his wallet on a family outing to the Magic Mountain amusement park in Valencia. He said he alerted Lasorda of his predicament Sunday morning, tried unsuccessfully to arrange for an alternate ride, then called the Dodgers back. Team officials told him to take a cab, which he did, arriving at the ballpark just before the seventh inning.

“Cost me $80,” Howe said of the 40-mile cab ride. “And $300 for the fine.

“That’s nothing. I lost my wedding ring yesterday at a clinic.”

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Howe, who was suspended by the Dodgers on July 16, 1983, after reporting three hours late for a game at Dodger Stadium, then was suspended a second time on Sept. 23 after missing a flight to Atlanta, before finally being suspended for the 1984 season because of drug violations, was surrounded by reporters immediately after the Dodgers’ 6-2 win over the Houston Astros.

“What did you do?” Bill Russell asked Howe.

“I messed up and got fined,” Howe said. “That’s big business.”

But it was innocent business, too, he said, to which Lasorda and Dodger Vice President Al Campanis concurred.

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“I don’t know how it looks, but you can’t drive a car without keys,” said Howe, who joked with reporters throughout the impromptu press conference. “If I was in Detroit, I’d have just stolen one.”

Howe, who grew up in suburban Detroit, said he called Lasorda twice, Campanis three times, traveling secretary Billy DeLury twice, and the cab company four times. He said he called Lasorda the first time at about 11:30 a.m., and again a half-hour later.

Lasorda, who said Howe first spoke to him at 10:30, said players did not have to report until after noon because of the old-timers’ game that preceded the regularly scheduled contest. The Dodger-Astro game did not begin until 2:08, an hour later than usual.

“It’s happened to you, it’s happened to me,” Lasorda said. “It was no bad sign, anything like that . . . We have fines if they (players) are late.”

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Campanis said he was satisfied with Howe’s explanation. “I think he had a bona fide reason,” Campanis said. “But Tommy had no recourse but to fine him. He sounded bona fide and fine to me.

“He tried so hard (to get a ride), the problem must have been frustrating to him. He didn’t think about a cab because he lives so far away.

“But I think he’s over the hump, he’s fine.”

Howe’s attorney, James Hawkins, who lives in Thousand Oaks, said Sunday evening that he hadn’t talked to Howe but had been away from home most of the day. “If it was somebody else, I wonder how people would react,” Hawkins said. “He seems like he’s going pretty well lately. I’m not going to question it.”

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