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Clark Bar

I'm getting old. I saw Jack Clark on the Cardinals post-game show on Friday night, and had to educate a couple of the young pups on why I found that significant.

Jack Clark was one of the scariest players of my childhood. If you watched a Mets-Cardinals game in either 1985 or 1987, the entire game seemed to be built around when two players would be coming to bat. One was Darryl Strawberry. The other was Jack Clark.

My father and I had a conversation at Monday's game about players we liked on other teams. Clark would definitely be a rep if we did an 80s squad.

Clark was 6-2 going on 6-6, 205 pounds, but built more like 230, since his height and weight were well-sized for that time period. The best adjectives to describe him as a hitter were "frightening," and "powerful." Clark played for a number of teams, but I remember him best on the Cardinals and Giants.

A lot of hitters put up good numbers in 1987 and one of those who took incredible advantage of the supposed juiced balls was Jack Clark. That season, Clark hit 35 home runs, drove in 106 runs, had an on-base percentage of .459 and a slugging percentage of .597. He walked 136 times in 131 games.

The lack of games was due to the problem that befell Clark throughout his career: injuries. In a typical season, Clark missed 25 to 30 games. That often cost him the chance to hit 30 home runs, and/or drive in 100 runs. A couple of times he missed much more time than that. If Clark had stayed healthy, he would be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Instead, his final stats bear a resemblance to those of former Mets George Foster and Gil Hodges- 340 home runs and 1,180 RBI.

Though the baseline numbers don't bear it out as much as I thought, Jack Clark was a GREAT clutch hitter. He used to have an annual battle with Keith Hernandez for the lead in game-winning RBI. He hit one of the biggest home runs in Cardinals history, a three-run home run in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1985 NLCS, which put St. Louis into the World Series.

As evidence of Clark's clutchness, I come back to walk-offs, as I always seem to here. Clark had 18 walk-off RBI in his career, tied for 13th-most since 1954 (by way of, and I believe his 14 walk-off RBI in the 1980s match Andre Dawson for most in the decade.

Clark also has a Mets claim to fame. He and Lee May are the only two players to hit a walk-off triple against the Mets. Clark's came on June 19, 1980, in the 10th inning of a 4-3 win in San Francisco. That came nearly two years to the day of a walk-off home run against the Mets on June 16, 1978, one of eight walk-off home runs that Clark hit in his career.

The Truly Jacked Mets Fan Knows...Jack Clark hit 18 home runs against the Mets. The most homers he hit against a Mets pitcher was 3, versus Ron Darling and Ed Lynch.


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