Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#10 Will Clark

About the Front: Why am I doing this blog? One reason is that it forces me to look at these cards closer than I have in decades, and sometimes that means finding a detail that had previously escaped me. For instance, Will Clark is pointing at someone or something with his left hand as he rounds the bases. Is he acknowledging a coach or teammate during a home run trot? Is he telling the opposing catcher that he's gunning straight for him? Or is it a completely involuntary contortion of the digit? I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

About the Back: That pair of seven-RBI games is impressive enough, but Will also shined on a bright stage in Game One of the 1989 NLCS. He went 4-for-4 with a walk, a double, a pair of home runs, and six RBI in an 11-3 rout of the Cubs. The first baseman's fourth-inning grand slam off of Greg Maddux blew the game open.

Triple Play:

1. Though he often missed time with injuries in the second half of his career and didn't put up gaudy home run numbers, Clark was a very productive player to the end. He batted .319/.418/.546 (145 OPS+) in his swan song in 2000, with 21 home runs and 70 RBI in 130 games with the Orioles and Cardinals. After the July 31 deal that sent him to St. Louis, Will was even better: .345/426/.655 (167 OPS+) in 51 games, helping the Redbirds reach the NLCS.

2. Nicknamed "Will the Thrill", Clark homered in his first career game (actually, on his first major league swing, famously victimizing Nolan Ryan) and in his last regular-season contest.

3. The fourth Google result for Will is this unflattering memoir from sportswriter Jeff Pearlman, who was publicly browbeaten by the Thrill for daring to print the bigoted things that ex-Braves reliever John Rocker said in an interview for Sports Illustrated.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: In December of 1993, Clark was one of the first big-ticket free agents pursued by Baltimore owner Peter Angelos. I remember being disappointed when he signed with the Rangers, because he was more of a household name than Rafael Palmeiro, who ended up going from Texas to the Orioles in a separate free-agent deal. As it turned out, the O's got their money's worth from Raffy. More on that later.

I also remember being amused to no end when I learned from Will's 1991 Donruss card that his middle name was "Nuschler".

Bill James Said: "He's 30; many or most players' best years are behind them at 30, but certainly if he's healthy, he's going to drive in more than 73." Despite playing in only 110 games thanks to the 1994 players' strike, Clark drove in 80 in his first season in Texas.

On This Date in 1993: May 28. Super Mario Bros., starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the eponymous Italian plumbing duo, is released in theatres. It is the first feature film based on a video game, and regrettably not the last.


  1. He's definitely pointing - he looks bad-@$$ in this card!

  2. Love the Pearlman story about Clark. Pretty much everything I suspected in Clark right there.

  3. Rob - So it would probably be less bad-ass if he were making "pyew, pyew" noises, right?

    night owl - Yeah, I can't say it surprised me. Why anyone would bother defending John Rocker is beyond me.