Will Clark

From BR Bullpen

Will Clark.jpg

William Nuschler Clark Jr.
(the Thrill)

BR page

Biographical History[edit]

"There's no doubt Will comes to play every day and he plays hard." - Tom Glavine

Nicknamed "Will The Thrill", first baseman Will Clark hit .303 and was a six-time All-Star over a 15-year career.

Originally selected by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round of the 1982 amateur draft, Clark did not sign. Instead, he went to Mississippi State University, where he rose to stardom along with teammates Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Thigpen. During his college years, he was a member of the 1984 Olympic team (along with Mark McGwire and B.J. Surhoff). The following year, he won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur player, while Mississippi State reached the College World Series.

Clark was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the second overall pick (behind Surhoff) in the 1985 amateur draft. This was one of the most talented draft classes in history, featuring players such as Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin, Bobby Witt, and Gregg Jefferies, as well as Surhoff and Palmeiro. He was signed by scout Ken Parker and made his pro debut with the Fresno Giants on June 21st. Clark hit a home run in his first pro at-bat (on his first swing as well), and hit .309 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs in 65 games with the club.

Clark was ready for the majors in 1986 and was the Giants Opening Day first baseman. He immediately showed he belonged in the big leagues, hitting a home run in his first at-bat in the majors (once again on his first swing) on April 8th, off future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Despite missing more than a month due to injuries, he hit .287 with 11 homers in his rookie campaign and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year voting.

In 1987, Clark hit .308 with 35 home runs, and the following year, he led the NL with 109 RBIs. He had perhaps his best season in 1989, when he hit .333 with 23 homers and 111 RBIs. The Giants won the NL West, and Clark was runner-up for the NL MVP to teammate Kevin Mitchell. In the NLCS, he went an amazing 13-for-20 with 2 home runs, but he hit just .250 in the World Series that was interrupted by an earthquake. Near the end of that season, he signed a $15 million, four-year contract that put him among the highest paid players in the game. He put together another excellent season in 1991, hitting .301 with 29 home runs and a career-high 116 RBI.

After the 1993 season, Clark became a free agent and signed with the Texas Rangers, where he replaced former college teammate Palmeiro at first base. Although his numbers were not quite as good as with the Giants, he did hit over .300 in four of his five years with the Rangers, and the team reached the postseason in 1996 and 1998. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles after the 1998 season (once again replacing Palmeiro as the team's first baseman). An early-season highlight came when he scored the winning run against Pedro Luis Lazo in first game of the 1999 Baltimore Orioles-Cuban National Team Exhibition Series. However, he struggled with injuries that summer, appearing in only 77 games (but still hitting .303). Midway through 2000, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Jose Leon. Even though he did extremely well with his new team, hitting .345 with a 166 OPS+, he announced his retirement at the end of the year, finishing his career with a .303 batting average.

In the 2006 Hall of Fame voting, Clark received 4.4% of the vote in his first year on the ballot. He needed 26 votes to stay on the ballot, but got only 23. He finished ahead of Dwight Gooden, who got 3.3%. In 2017, he was placed on the Veterans Committee ballot looking at players and executives from "Today's Game" era. He received less than five votes, but was again considered by the Veterans Committee in 2019.

At one point, Clark owned a restaurant with Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 6-time All-Star (1988-1992 and 1994)
  • 1989 NLCS MVP
  • NL Gold Glove Winner (1991)
  • 2-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1989 & 1991)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1991)
  • NL Runs Scored Leader (1989)
  • NL Total Bases Leader (1991)
  • NL RBI Leader (1988)
  • NL Bases on Balls Leader (1988)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 6 (1987-1989, 1991, 1998 & 2000)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1987)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (1988, 1989, 1991 & 1998)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1988 & 1989)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Chris Haft: "Will in-depth numbers support Clark's cause? Giants star first baseman among 10 considered by Hall of Fame committee", mlb.com, November 29, 2016. [1]
  • Bob Kuenster: "Baseball Profile: Will Clark, San Francisco Giants", Baseball Digest, July 1989, p. 55 [2]

Related Sites[edit]