Tuesday, February 11, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #108 WILL CLARK


HAD ONE SWEET SWING.




'93 WOULD BE HIS FINAL SEASON IN SAN FRANCISCO.



DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Like #103 Barry Bonds and #104 Roger Clemens, #108 Will Clark and #107 Nolan Ryan share a bond. The Thrill homered in his first major-league at-bat for the Giants off The Express on April 8, 1986. Clark's homer was a loud pronouncement that the former Olympian and Golden Spikes winner at Mississippi State was going to be a future star. The seven-time All-Star played 15 seasons, had a .303/.384/.497 slash line and 2,176 hits.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • On Oct. 4, 1989, in Game 1 of the NLCS, Clark almost singlehandedly put the Cubs in an 0-1 series hole. With the Giants leading 4-3 in the top of the fourth, Clark came up with the bases loaded and two out against #85 Greg Maddux. Catcher Joe Girardi went to the mound, and Clark later said he could read Maddux's lips: "Fastball, high inside.'' Maddux being Maddux, the first pitch was right where he wanted it, and Clark turned on it and sent it onto Sheffield Avenue for a grand slam. The Giants would go on to win 11-3 and Clark would go 4-for-4 with six RBI and four runs scored. This was the reason pitchers and catchers began covering their mouths during mound conferences.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Clark was an 8.6-win player in '89, finishing runner-up to teammate #136 Kevin Mitchell for NL MVP. He slashed .333/.407/.546, with 111 RBI, 23 homers and a league-leading 104 runs scored. He had a career-high 175 OPS+.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Clark was taken with the second overall pick in the '85 draft, behind #8 B.J. Surhoff.
  2. An elbow injury sidelined Clark 47 games during his '86 rookie season, and he was fifth for NL Rookie of the Year after batting .287 with 11 homers and 41 RBI.
  3. Clark led #77 Tony Gwynn by one point (.334-.333) for the NL batting crown entering the final day of the season in '89. Gwynn went 3-for-4 while Clark went 1-for-4, giving Gwynn the title, .336-.333.
  4. A memorable six-pitch at-bat against Cubs closer #49 Mitch Williams occurred in Game 5 of the NLCS. With the bases loaded again and two out in the bottom of the eighth in a 1-1 game, Clark laced a single to left, driving in two. The Giants would hold on for a 3-2 win, advancing to their first World Series since '62.
  5. Signed a four-year contract to replace college teammate #52 Rafael Palmeiro in Texas in December '93.

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