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Horace Clarke

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Horace Meredith Clarke

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[edit] Biographical Information

The late 1960s and early 1970s are often referred to derisively as the "Horace Clarke Era" for the New York Yankees. Horace was a leadoff man. He played all through the eclipse of baseball's greatest franchise. He began playing for them in 1965, one year after their 1964 World Series appearance, which was the last of a long run of almost constant presence in the Fall Classic dating back to the 1920s, and left in 1974, just two seasons before they returned to the World Series in 1976. Ultimately, the light-hitting second baseman became the scapegoat for a low ebb in team history.

In 1968, the "Year of the Pitcher", Clarke had a staggering nine extra-base hits in 579 at-bats. He was at best a "pesky" hitter - in 1970 Horace broke up three no-hitters in the 9th inning - by Joe Niekro, Sonny Siebert, and Jim Rooker. He had speed and good range (although he was criticized for holding the ball on double plays). In his defense, the Yankees in those days had few good options to lead off. Roy White would have been an excellent fit at the top of the lineup, but the roster was short of power, so manager Ralph Houk used White in the middle of the order..

It was Clarke who was to have batted with 2 out in the top of the 9th and the Yanks trailing the Washington Senators 7-5 when the fans at RFK Stadium stormed the field and caused the forfeiture of the final game the expansion Senators played in Washington, DC.

Horace Clarke was the fifth man from the Virgin Islands to play major-league baseball. After he retired, he became a government-paid instructor in the local baseball programs on St. Croix, partnering with Elmo Plaskett. Their star pupils were Jerry Browne and Midre Cummings. Horace's sons Jeff Clarke and Jason Clarke both played in the minors.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2-time AL At Bats Leader (1969 & 1970)
  • 2-time AL Singles Leader (1967 & 1969)

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