McDowell was a two-time All-American at Arizona State, a starter on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, and the Rangers’ first pick in the June 1984 draft. Brought up to much fanfare in 1985, the 5’9″ centerfielder wore number 0 and led AL rookies with 18 HR and 25 stolen bases. Against Cleveland on July 23, he hit for the cycle.
He matched his rookie performance in 1986 and 1987 and even set a Ranger record for runs scored with 105 in 1986, but did not become the superstar Texas expected. He did not hit lefthanders well, and baserunners took advantage of his weak arm. He had slumped to .205 in June 1988 when he was optioned to Oklahoma City. He returned and finished at .247, but the Rangers included him with Pete O’Brien and Jerry Browne in a December trade for Cleveland shortstop Julio Franco. A similar lack of success for the Indians prompted them to trade him to Atlanta for Dion James in July 1989.
McDowell batted .304 in 76 games after the trade, but floundered the following season in Atlanta and spent the next three seasons in the minors. The Rangers brought McDowell back for one last season in 1994, in which he batted .262 with 14 steals as a reserve outfielder.