Tony Clark

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Anthony Christopher Clark
(Tony The Tiger)

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Biographical Information[edit]

All-Star first baseman Tony Clark belted 251 home runs in 15 big league seasons. In 2013, he became the first ex-player to become the head of the MLBPA.

In high school, Tony earned All-American honors in baseball and basketball. He once held records for career and single-season points for San Diego-area high school basketball; his single-season mark broke the record previously held by NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton. Clark also played basketball in college, although he injured his back in his freshman year and missed all of 1991, concentrating solely on baseball thereafter. After being drafted second overall by the [[Detroit Tigers] in the 1990 amateur draft, right behind Chipper Jones, he began playing in the minors exclusively in the summer, starting in 1990 with the Bristol Tigers, where he hit .164 in 25 games. When he returned to the diamond after his one-year absence, he did much better, hitting .306 in 27 games for the Niagara Falls Rapids of the New York-Penn League. He only played 36 games in 1993, with the Lakeland Tigers of the Florida State League, but by the end of 1995, he was playing in the major leagues, after a 23-homer season in 1994 and despite hitting only .242 with 14 homers in his first full season in AAA with the Toledo Mud Hens.

Tony settled in comfortably as the Tigers' regular first baseman by 1996, belting 27 home runs in 376 at bats while slugging .503, the first of five consecutive seasons with a slugging percentage .500 or better. In 1997, Tony eclipsed 100 runs scored for the only time in his career en route to a .276/.376/.500 line and his first of three consecutive 30-home run seasons. His 1998 may have been his finest season, batting .291/.358/.522 while clubbing 37 doubles and 34 home runs coupled with 103 RBI. He belted 31 home runs in 1999, then missed 102 games in 2000 because of injuries to his rib cage and lower back. In 60 at-bats during an injury-addled June that season, he hit .350 with 8 home runs and 21 RBI. He made his lone All-Star team in 2001, but his line was down from his 1997 to 1999 peak, batting "only" .287/.374/.481 with 16 home runs. He is one of the few men in history to actually be waived after going to the All-Star Game, claimed in the winter of 2001 by the Boston Red Sox, for whom he struggled mightily, batting just .207 with 3 home runs in 90 games in 2002. He had to wait until January 2003 for an offer, a one-year deal with the New York Mets.

It was at this point Tony became a valuable bat for hire, playing irregularly while reliably belting a number of home runs. He hit 16 in 254 at bats for the Mets in 2003, moving across town to The Bronx and the New York Yankees, hitting an identical 16 in 253 at bats in 2004 while becoming only the third man in Yankee Stadium (following Danny Tartabull and Bernie Williams) to reach the center field bleachers multiple times (since the 1970s remodel). He joined the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005 and socked 30 big flies in just 343 at bats, en route to a stellar .304/.366/.636 line. He struggled through an injury-plagued 2006, then connected for 17 home runs in 2007 in just 221 at bats, slugging .511. Signing with the San Diego Padres for 2008, he split his final two seasons with the Friars and back with the Snakes, retiring after a July 2009 release.

All told, Tony hit .262/.339/.485 with 251 home runs and 824 RBI. He holds the all-time record for the most time zones slugging a home run in. He is the only player with six, having homered in Puerto Rico for the Mets in 2003, and Japan with the Yankees in 2004, after earlier homering in the main four USA zones.

After retiring, Tony briefly served as a broadcaster with the new MLB Network. He became active in the Major League Baseball Players Association in March 2010 as director of player relations. He had been a player representative for many years and was already familiar with union business. He was named deputy to executive director Michael Weiner when he was struck by brain cancer in July 2013, and replaced him on an interim basis after his passing on November 21, 2013. On December 3rd, he was confirmed and unanimously elected to the position of executive director. A few days later, he named Hall of Famer Dave Winfield as his deputy. In November 2018, his contract was renewed until 2022.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 1996 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • AL All-Star (2001)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (1996-1999 & 2005)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1997-1999 & 2005)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1997 & 1998)
  • 100 Run Scored Seasons: 1 (1997)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Tracy Ringolsby: "From early on, union head Clark destined to lead: Ex-big leaguer seized baseball opportunity after injury ended basketball career", mlb.com, March 11, 2014. [1]
  • Paul White: "New union chief Tony Clark talks replays, collisions, PEDs", USA Today Sports, February 21, 2014. [2]

Related Sites[edit]