SCHERERVILLE | During a flat-lined road trip to Sioux City, Iowa, Trent Howard arrived at the second act of his life.
"That's when I made the decision," Howard said about his retirement from playing professional baseball.
"After I got released this spring training (from the Baltimore Orioles organization), I signed with the Southern Illinois Miners who then traded me to the (Sioux City) Explorers," said the former Clark High School left-handed ace. "On my way over, I figured there was much more for me back home than there was for me playing out there.
"So I stopped off to call the manager to say, 'I'm sorry. I'm not coming. I'm going back home.' "
It was a long way back.
After graduating from Clark, Howard continued his career at Central Michigan University, where he was a three-time all-Mid-American Conference selection while striking out 213 batters in 212 career innings pitched.
With a fastball clocked in the lower 90s, Howard was the Orioles' seventh-round pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft — the highest Chippewas draft pick in nearly 10 years.
Howard got as high as Double-A in the Orioles system.
"Playing pro baseball is a great experience ... it was always a dream of mine," Howard said. "But it's not always the dream people make it out to be.
"During the dog days of summer, you may end up paying 40 straight days. You'll get done playing a night game somewhere, ride on a bus for 10 hours and get off to play again. It's hard to get any sleep and it's especially hard to eat right dining on fast food day after day.
"But when you're living a dream, I guess you get used to it."
Though Howard has retired, he's not leaving the game. He recently hooked up with Indiana Elite, founded by Schererville police officer and Lake Central assistant coach Jeff Myszak.
Howard coaches Indiana Elite's 11-and-under baseball team, which recently won it first tournament of the season — the BPA Hidden Lake Classic — and will serve as head instructor for several Indiana Elite-sponsored camps and programs at Rohrman Park in Schererville.
"I love the game, and I want to see it flourish in the area," Howard said. "Not only do I want to help create good players, but good people as well."
Howard is engaged to be married this fall. During the past off-seasons, he had served as a substitute teacher at Morton High School, and still plans to teach in the future.
"But now my goal is to get into law enforcement," said Howard, who hopes to join Myszak as a civilian on patrol.
"It was hard for me to quit playing," said Howard, 24. "But now that I did, I see a lot more opportunities for me."