On August 1, 1902, manager Bill Armour of the Cleveland Bronchos found himself with a seriously depleted pitching staff. Two off-days the previous week had been filled with exhibitions that went 15 and 13 innings respectively. Then Bill Bernhard injured his knee sliding into a base. Addie Joss was sick and Gene Wright was nursing a sore arm. Only Earl Moore was healthy and games were scheduled for the next 10 days. The two opposing pitchers from the exhibitions, Otto Hess and Charlie Smith, were signed and made their debuts August 3 and 6. Armour also invited five other area pitchers for tryouts; one of them was Harvey Clark, from Wooster, Ohio, who had recently had a trial in the Southern Association with Birmingham. Clark was the only one to be offered a roster spot.
Clark was scheduled to start on August 7, but a rainout altered Armour’s plans. After an off-day on August 10, Armour sent Gene Wright to the hill versus Baltimore. Wright had “neither speed nor control”1 and was pulled after three innings trailing 5-4. Clark went into the game and controlled the Orioles until the ninth, when he tired. He showed some speed and movement on his throws but was “not fast enough for the American League and will probably be allowed to develop.”2 The Bronchos rallied for a 17-11 win helped by a four-run seventh that started with Clark’s single. Clark gained the victory with his six innings of work, allowing four earned runs. At bat he went 2-for-4. Enjoying a six-game winning streak, the Bronchos left on a two-week, 12-game, trip east. Moore, Bernhard, Hess, and Smith comprised the pitching staff; Clark and Wright were left behind. Clark would never take the hill in the majors again.3
Harvey Daniel Clark was born on March 7, 1879, in Wooster, the fourth child of Charles and Margery (Fasig) Clark. The 1910 census noted that there would eventually be 10 children, seven of whom survived. Charles was a painter and provided well for the family. In a time when many children went to school only until they could read and write, Harvey completed high school before embarking on his baseball career. He joined the local Wooster team and by 1900 he was its ace pitcher. He also played outfield. By 1902 he was talented enough to be recruited by other teams. He hurled Canton to a victory over East Liverpool in May just before signing with the Birmingham Barons of the Class A Southern Association.4
Clark’s professional debut came on May 29 against Little Rock. Two infield errors in the ninth plated the winning run for Little Rock in the 2-1 game. He lost three more starts and then made a relief appearance on June 25 before being dropped. He returned to Wooster and pitched for the town team until the Bronchos summoned him. After the Cleveland experience, Clark returned to the hill for Wooster.
Clark was 5-feet-10 or -11 and weighed 165 pounds during his playing days. Early on, his nickname was Stubby5 The moniker of Ginger, referring to his reddish or strawberry blond hair, started to appear in 1904.6
In 1903 Clark returned to action with Birmingham. He posted an 11-8 mark while serving as the number-three man in the rotation. He returned to Wooster after the season to play ball and work as a painter. On December 8 he wed Bertha Lawrence of nearby Ashland, Ohio. The couple had three sons, Robert, Richard, and Charles. In 1904 Birmingham welcomed Clark back as its staff ace. Despite some excellent outings from Clark and mound mate Cotton Minahan, the Barons got off to a wretched start and avoided last place only because Montgomery was even worse. Manager Tom O’Brien was fired and replaced by Farmer Vaughn. Vaughn took a heavy-handed approach to righting the team. This backfired when Vaughn questioned Clark’s hustle for his failure to score from first on a teammate’s double. Clark was fined $10; he took exception and returned to Wooster on July 8.7 Minahan also bolted the team in early July for the money offered by an outlaw league.
In Wooster, Clark took an offer from the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, team and made plans to join the club. He pitched a game or two for the town team and was ready to depart for Johnstown when the Barons offered a salary increase for him to return. Clark snatched the Birmingham offer and went south.8 He posted a 14-13 record for the resurgent Barons, who finished over .500 in fourth place. Clark returned to Wooster to play games in the fall Trolley League and brought catcher Pat Millerick with him. The duo would do the same in 1905-06. Clark found work as a painter or a retail clerk during the winters.
The 1905 Barons once again finished in the middle of the pack despite a league-leading 22 victories from Clark. In 1906 he again chalked up 22 wins, but it was a trio from Wooster who helped Birmingham to the pennant. Besides Clark the roster featured young Scotty Alcock at third base for 42 games and hurler Kaiser Wilhelm, who matched Clark with 22 wins. Fellow Ohioan Slim Sallee added another 17 victories. Both Clark and the Barons fell below .500 in 1907. In 1908 Clark held out in March before relenting. He had trouble rounding into form and was placed on waivers in early June. The New Orleans Pelicans quickly added him to their roster. Despite inconsistency, Clark posted a 17-15 record, but was not used in the last week of a tight pennant race. The Pelicans lost the pennant on the last day to Nashville. In September Clark’s contract was sold to Chattanooga Lookouts in the South Atlantic League.9
Clark enjoyed a resurgence in Class C ball. “Old Man Ginger Clark, with his tantalizing slow ball and his underhand delivery, showed that he is not a candidate for the baseball junk pile,” a newspaper wrote of him.10 It is uncertain whether the “tantalizing slow ball” referred to a lack of speed or Clark’s well-established curveball. On September 1 in front of a huge crowd in Knoxville, he tossed a near-perfect game. The only batter to reach base came when the catcher muffed an easy popup in front of the plate. The Lookouts faced Augusta in a best-of-seven playoff that turned into a nightmare of wrangling. Chattanooga made last second pickups of top-line pitchers from two other league teams and used them in the championship series. Needless to say, Augusta demanded league action, which never came. Despite a 17-10 record, Clark was given only one start, a 3-0 loss. Chattanooga won the series in seven games.
Manager Johnny Dobbs took the Lookouts into the Southern Association in 1910. After nearly 200 starts over the previous seven seasons, Clark was worn down and unable to make the Lookouts roster. In June his rights were transferred to the Harrisburg Senators in the Class B Tri-State League. He was pressed into service the day after his arrival and showed the rust from little preparation. Fortunately for him, the game was rained out in the second inning. He returned to the hill on June 14 for a no-decision start and then the next day for a failed relief stint. Clark won his next outing over York despite being hit hard. He made one more start, a 7-1 loss, and two more relief appearances before manager Kip Selbach decided he was not a fit. Clark was sent home on July 2.
Clark had one final hoorah in Organized Baseball when he joined the Mansfield Brownies of the Class C Ohio-Pennsylvania League. He was in shape and started the season strong, but was felled by a fever that forced bed rest upon him. He returned to the team and recorded 29 appearances and a 14-12 record for the second-division squad.
Clark settled down to life after baseball. He was primarily a paint contractor, but his wife noted on his Hall of Fame questionnaire that he was also a billiard-room proprietor. The couple left Wooster in the 1920s and took up residence in Akron, Ohio. In the 1940s they left Ohio and joined sons Richard and Charles in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Richard was a superintendent of a synthetic rubber plant where Charles also worked. Clark joined them and took a job as a timekeeper. He died at the couple’s home in Louisiana on May 10, 1943.11 His body was returned to Wooster for burial.
In addition to the sources listed in the Notes, the author consulted the following:
1912 Reach Baseball Guide.
Greensboro (North Carolina) Daily News.
The Sporting News.
1 Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 12, 1902: 3.
2 Cleveland Leader, August 12, 1902: 7.
3 On August 14, Piano Legs Hickman tossed a complete game to help lessen the workload for the regulars.
4 Canton Repository, May 15, 1902: 2.
5 Cleveland Leader, October 6, 1905: 8.
6 Examples appear in the Plain Dealer, Montgomery (Alabama) Advocate, and New Orleans Times-Picayune.
7 Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser, July 8, 1904:12.
8 Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 17, 1904: 13.
9 The State (Columbia, South Carolina), September 22, 1908: 5.
10 Augusta (Georgia)Chronicle, September 16, 1909, 4,
11 Neither the HOF questionnaire nor the obituary in the Wooster Daily Record listed a cause of death.