Like the Cheesecake Factory menu, the 1979 baseball amateur draft had something for everyone. A total of 870 players were selected, including five future managers (Ron Gardenhire, Don Mattingly, Bob Geren, Bud Black, Bob Melvin); one World Series MVP (Orel Hershiser), the record-holder for most consecutive hits in one World Series (Billy Hatcher); one broadcaster (Harold Reynolds); and several All-Stars (Reynolds, Hershiser, Mattingly, Tim Wallach, Jimmy Key, Brett Butler, Glenn Davis, Andy Van Slyke). It even featured two Hall of Famers, although of a different sport: John Elway and Dan Marino would choose the gridiron glory over the baseball diamond and forge historic careers.
Yet a case could be made that the most memorable career was that of the 575th pick. Terry Clark, an 18-year-old right-hander from Los Angeles, was chosen in the 23rd round by St. Louis. He would enjoy several years in the majors and twice as many in the minors, three campaigns in the Caribbean winter leagues, and almost two decades as a minor-league coach. His story is marked by perseverance, a strong will, arduous work, and an indefatigable desire to play baseball. His major-league sojourn was longer than the historical average of 5½ years, yet it featured an interregnum in the minors after nine major-league years and before an additional two seasons bookending his career.1 It was a Shakespearean five-act play held in a variety of parks, a religious service celebrated both in grand cathedrals and humble chapels.
Terry Lee Clark was born on October 18, 1960, in Los Angeles to a working-class family; his father was a truck driver and his mother stayed at home with the children. Less than a week before his birth, Pittsburgh had defeated the Yankees for the World Series; the Pirates would celebrate the franchise’s first title since 1925. The West Coast, long the domain of the Pacific Coast League, had recently welcomed the Dodgers and the Giants, émigrés from the pinstripe-dominated Gotham baseball scene, while the Los Angeles Angels were preparing for their maiden season in 1961.
Having graduated from La Puente High School at age 17, Clark attended Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California, for a year and caught the eye of scout Angel Figueroa during a “thoroughbred” game. His college coach, Art Mazmanian, was a former All-American from the University of Southern California who played seven years in the minor leagues, mostly in the Yankees’ farm system.2 Clark had played shortstop and the outfield growing up, but his strong right arm was better suited to getting hitters out at the plate, and the Cardinals sent him to their Appalachian League affiliate in Johnson City along with his fellow draftees.
His manager, fellow Californian Nick Leyva, himself a former minor leaguer, sized up his new pitcher and mentioned that he would be the team’s closer. “I didn’t even know what that meant,” said Clark, noting that Leyva told him he would pitch in the eighth and ninth innings when the team was ahead.3 This was music to Clark’s ears, since he “enjoyed pitching more days in a row.” He saw action in 23 games, capturing four wins, two losses, and eight saves, securing a promotion once the new year began.
Leyva was again his skipper and three fellow 1979 draftees (Van Slyke, Mark Salas, and Earl Weaver, no relation to the legendary Orioles manager) also suited up for the South Atlantic League’s Gastonia Cardinals. The club finished 1980 second in its division with Clark pitching out of the bullpen; he was involved in 21 decisions (four wins, seven losses, and 10 saves) and 28 other games with a 3.17 ERA, comfortably below the league average of 4.25. While the others moved on, Clark stayed with the team in 1981, improving his numbers to a 4-5 record, 13 saves, and a stellar 2.16 ERA over 53 games, and the Cardinals promoted him to the Florida State League for the 1982 campaign. Once more coupled with Leyva, he turned in a 19-save, 10-win season on the back of a 2.55 ERA for St. Petersburg. Despite not starting a game, he tied Walt Pierce for the team lead in victories while setting the pace for saves.
The 1983 season saw Clark suiting up for the Arkansas Cardinals in the Double-A Texas League. The roster included future Cardinals stalwarts and NL MVPs Willie McGee (1985) and Terry Pendleton (1991). Clark contributed 15 saves, a 6-6 record, and a 3.21 ERA in 52 games. His performance earned him a promotion for 1984 to Triple-A Louisville, which already had two closers, Andy Hassler and Jeff Keener. Clark thus played the role of a set-up man, contributing 34⅓ innings with a 4.72 ERA for the 1984 Jim Fregosi-led team.
The big-league Cardinals lost a heartbreaking 1985 World Series to the Royals, but Double-A Arkansas played sub-.500 ball. McGee and Pendleton had made the jump to the parent club and the fall classic, while Clark made it backward, returning to the Travelers for another season. Jim Riggleman entrusted him with the ball on 42 occasions, but the role was ever-changing; Clark began seven games, closed eight, and appeared in 35 others. The result was a career-worst 4.93 ERA and a release during the National League Championship Series. For the first time in this life, Clark was out of a job.
The mild California winter provided some comfort and the siren call of his hometown club, the California Angels, was soothing on a crisp February 1986 day. He returned to the Texas League, this time wearing the Midland uniform, for a 57-game campaign that again saw him play a relief role. DeWayne Buice was the established closer and finished 42 games (14 saves, 8-6 record), while Clark appeared in 57, ending 32 with four saves. It was enough to merit a one-way ticket to Canada in 1987 to pitch for the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers. Neither Buice nor Clark was the main stopper, as skipper Tom Kotchman employed 12 other men to finish games (six of whom earned saves). Clark contributed a 3.84 ERA in 20 starts and 13 relief appearances, with eight wins, nine losses, and four saves.
Clark sought some additional work during the winter of 1987, signing with the Azucareros (sugar-cane workers) del Este in La Romana, Dominican Republic. The Azucareros finished fifth in the six-team league, missing the playoffs.4 Playing alongside future big leaguers Chuck Finley, Dante Bichette, Mike Cook, Orestes Destrade, and Hensley Meulens, Clark gave skipper Cookie Rojas a solid rotation arm.5 He took the mound on 14 occasions, finishing two games en route to four wins and six losses with a 2.32 ERA.6 It was a successful audition, with Clark playing in front of large crowds against high-caliber competition. He began 1988 once again north of the border and provided the Trappers with 16 solid starts (7-6, 4.91 ERA in 113⅔ innings) before the much-desired call arrived to reach “The Show.”
Only a year and a half removed from their surprising 1986 American League West title, the California Angels had taken a considerable step back in 1987, dropping to sixth place in their division. After parting ways with manager Gene Mauch, the team named Rojas to be its skipper. Though Rojas would not finish the season, being dismissed in late September with a 75-79 record, he had seen enough of Clark in the Dominican Winter League when he took the reins of the team. Dan Petry had suffered an injury and Rojas did not hesitate to call up Clark. “I joined the team in Toronto and Cookie told me I’d be starting in Cleveland. It was a great place to debut, since the stadium held 80,000 but only 15,000 showed up. … It took all the pressure off me from facing an away crowd.”
On July 7, 1988, Clark took the mound for the Angels against the Indians. His first pitch to Julio Franco was a strike: “Bob Boone was behind the plate and he said, don’t shake me off.” The rookie took the veteran’s advice and it paid off handsomely, as he got past a first-inning run by the Indians to hurl five strong innings (one run, five hits, no walks, 54 pitches, 33 of which were strikes). Rojas lifted him to begin the sixth and Greg Minton recorded his second save of the year by pitching a now-remarkable four innings in relief. Clark’s counterpart on the hill was future major-league pitching coach and manager John Farrell, and the second batter for the home team was eventual Cleveland manager Terry Francona. An even smaller crowd than Clark remembered (10,889) witnessed the contest, which took 2 hours and 37 minutes but did not materially impact either club, both of which would end up with losing records. He told the Associated Press, “[T]his was something I’ve always dreamed about. … After the fifth inning, it was the biggest relief of my life. I told myself, ‘[Y]ou got here, did the job, and now sit back and enjoy it.’”7
Clark won his first three starts, dominating Detroit on July 17 (eight innings, no runs) and the Indians again on July 22 (7⅓ frames, two runs). His July 27 game against the eventual American League champion Athletics was rough, as he lasted five innings while giving up seven runs, with Oakland exploding in the first and fifth innings, but as the calendar turned to August, he boasted a 3-0 record and a 3.55 ERA in 25⅓ innings. The new month began auspiciously, with a complete-game victory against Seattle and six efficient innings vs. the White Sox before three straight difficult outings against Oakland, New York, and Boston. Clark hurled his first shutout against the Yankees on August 27 to improve his mark to 6-2. September proved cruel as he suffered four losses in five games, finishing the year with a 6-6 pitching line in 94 innings.
Of the 141 men who made their big-league debut in 1988, only nine were older than Clark, and only two (Geren and Tony Fossas) were from his 1979 draft class. Still, with 15 starts under his belt, the future seemed bright. But Rojas had been fired with eight games left in the campaign, depriving Clark of a supporter. New manager Doug Rader shuffled the 1989 rotation, adding future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven as the first starter and wunderkind Jim Abbott as the fifth. Clark returned to Edmonton and showed he had little to prove (11-5, 3.58 ERA in 20 starts) before being recalled once the rosters expanded. He started two games (August 26 at Texas and September 1 in New York) but was hit hard (six total innings, seven runs), earning a demotion to the bullpen. He appeared in two other Angels losses but allowed only one run in five innings. The late turnaround failed to impress the Angels brass, who released him on October 6.
Clark did not have to wait long for his next contract; Houston signed him on January 26, 1990. He began the year with Tucson, then the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate. He started 22 games and pitched in seven others, winning 11 and losing four along with one save. The Astros finished 75-87, in a fourth-place tie with the Padres in the National League West, with Clark enjoying only a brief call-up in the summer. Facing Atlanta, he threw four innings and allowed seven runs (six earned) in the second game of a doubleheader. Houston erupted for six runs in the sixth frame to remove him from the decision, but the Braves rallied for a walk-off victory. The game included a personal highlight, as he smacked the first pitch he saw from Braves starter Tony Castillo to center field for a leadoff single. He advanced to second on Eric Yelding’s single and scored on a hit by Javier Ortiz. Clark grounded out in his second and last at-bat, this time closing the fourth inning and his Astros career; he was released on October 15, 1991.
A team from Clark’s past came calling on January 6, 1992. Cleveland, his initial opponent in the big leagues, signed him to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs. The club was led by future major-league skipper Charlie Manuel and featured eventual Hall of Famer Jim Thome. Clark started nine games, posting a 4-4 record with a 3.77 ERA (the league average was 4.40), but for the first time since 1987, he would not reach the upper echelon. The team released him on July 23 after he injured his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery. After a hard year of rehabilitation, the San Diego Padres offered Clark a contract and he reported to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga to get back into throwing form. His teammates included fellow 1979 draftee Scott Garrelts and former All-Star Bruce Hurst, themselves getting some work on their road back from injuries. He was promoted to Double-A Wichita, where he relieved in 19 games (29⅔ innings, 2.43 ERA) before being granted free agency on October 15.
Having thrown fewer than 50 innings since injuring his elbow, Clark waited for clubs to inquire about his availability. In the pre-Twitter, pre-Facebook, pre-YouTube era, ingenuity and phone calls ruled the day, and Clark told his agent he “wanted to be back in the big leagues.” The Braves signed him on November 24, 1993, but networking led him to Phil Regan, helming the perennial winners of the Venezuelan League, Caracas. Regan had managed teams in the Dominican winter league, where he first saw Clark in action.8 He is well-regarded in Caracas, a team he led for eight campaigns, including a 1989-1990 title.9
Clark packed his bags and trekked to South America, providing the Leones with a robust five wins, four saves, and a 1.87 ERA (second lowest in the league) in 1993-1994 as the club finished second.10 He was sensational in the round-robin semifinals, hurling 9⅔ pristine innings in six games, but saw his luck turn in the finals against Magallanes, allowing four runs in as many frames. Atlanta, winner of three straight division titles, was impressed and invited Clark to spring training. “I pitched 18 innings in the Grapefruit League but ultimately started in Richmond,” he said, though he contributed 61 appearances (a career high) and a 3.02 ERA in Triple A. A late-season call-up was possible until the players strike wiped out the last seven weeks of the major-league campaign.
Hungry for more baseball, Clark returned to Caracas for the 1994-1995 season, this time powering the Leones to the league title. Although his ERA swelled to 5.70, he once again started games; feeling overused in relief, he marched into the owner’s office and “asked for an opportunity to start.” He repaid the trust by pitching four games in the semifinals (3 starts, 1-1, 24⅓ innings, 2.96 ERA) as well as two in the finals (1-1 with a 3.52 ERA) as the Leones roared.11 The team traveled to San Juan for the Caribbean Series but encountered the formidable Puerto Rican “Dream Team,” dropping five of the six contests. Clark could only marvel at what he encountered: “What a team: Edgar Martinez, Roberto Alomar, Juan González, and so many others.” The second game for both squads was an extra-innings affair, with Ugueth Urbina walking Carlos Delgado with the bases loaded in the 10th to give Puerto Rico a 4-3 victory.12
Clark returned to Florida for spring training and impressed the Braves enough to make the Opening Day roster. He was ecstatic: “Bobby Cox broke the news to me, stating, ‘[Y]ou should have made the team last year.’” The rotation of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, and Kent Mercker was the league’s best; Clark would pitch in relief. The strike had caused a few weeks’ worth of games to be canceled, so the team had an odd schedule to start the season, with a two-game set at home against the Giants before traveling for a three-game series with the Dodgers. Atlanta won the first pair but dropped the third, a 9-1 drubbing in Los Angeles. Avery allowed a double to Delino DeShields to start the game; he stole third and scored on a wild throw by Charlie O’Brien. Two other Dodgers crossed the plate in the bottom of the fourth before Cox pulled his young left-hander. Motioning to the bullpen, he brought in Clark, making his first major-league appearance in almost five years. Having inherited men on second and third, there was little room for error as he walked Carlos Hernández on five pitches. However, pitcher Pedro Astacio meekly tapped the ball back to Clark, who tossed it to O’Brien at the plate before the catcher threw to Ryan Klesko at first to complete an inning-ending double play. Seven pitches later, Clark was back in the dugout, marveling at how a brief time on the big-league mound followed such a prolonged absence from it. Thirsty for runs and with the luxury of early-season rested arms, Cox pinch-hit for Clark in the next half inning with Dwight Smith, who laced a single to left field against Astacio.
Clark next saw action on May 2, when the Braves visited the Marlins. Normally, a Maddux start against a poor team would make relief pitching unlikely, but the abbreviated spring training prompted big-league skippers to be cautious with their players. Maddux tossed 5⅔ strong frames (three hits, one run); Greg McMichael and Mark Wohlers provided 2⅓ innings of unblemished support. Since the Braves had scored seven runs, the game no longer represented a save situation, and Cox called on Clark to close. He walked Jeff Conine on five pitches, retired former minor-league teammate Pendleton on a groundout, and enticed Greg Colbrunn and Charles Johnson to fly out. Eighteen pitches, 10 of which were strikes, and a second appearance without yielding a hit for Clark. The team swept Florida and returned home for a four-game set against Philadelphia.
The Phillies would finish second in the division but their 69-75 record masked the intensity of manager Fregosi, for whom Clark had played in the minor leagues, and veterans Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra, and Curt Schilling. The Phillies swept the Braves, with the May 5 contest being Clark’s last for Atlanta. Mercker started the game and was shelled early, yielding five runs in two innings; Jason Schmidt allowed two more in three frames. Cox called on Clark to take over in the sixth, but the Phillies, ahead 7-3, were not done. Seven men went to the plate and forced Clark to throw 27 pitches. Kevin Stocker and Dykstra scored, though Gregg Jefferies and Dave Hollins were stranded on base. In a matter of minutes, Clark’s ERA ballooned from 0.00 to 6.75. The Braves went in order in the sixth, as Tyler Green employed only 10 pitches to retire Jeff Blauser, Chipper Jones, and Fred McGriff, giving Clark little rest before returning to the field. Veteran Charlie Hayes forced a walk during an eight-pitch battle and Dave Gallagher singled on Clark’s first offering. Though he was on the ropes, Clark retired Tony Longmire, Mickey Morandini, and Dykstra to close the top of the seventh. Cox double-switched Javy López and Clark for O’Brien and Pedro Borbón in the eighth, sending Clark to the showers.
The front office wanted to give Clark more time to work on his mechanics. “John Schuerholz said, ‘We want to send you back to Richmond to work on some things.’ I asked for some time to think about it, and spoke to my former manager Phil Regan, who was now in Baltimore. He said they could use me, so I asked Atlanta for my release. Schuerholz was surprised and asked me if I was sure.” He said he fondly remembered his time in the Braves organization, especially the insight he gained from his fellow hurlers: “Leo Mazzone may get the credit, but Maddux was the true pitching coach of those teams. He spent so much time with the pitchers.”
Clark wanted to remain on a big-league roster; he took his wisdom, carefully crafted through winter-, major-, and minor-league campaigns, to the Orioles, inking a deal on June 1. The front office assigned him to Triple-A Rochester, where he appeared in nine games, compiling five saves, one win and two losses. Baltimore called him up in early June and he appeared in a June 8 contest against Seattle, finishing an 8-2 Oriole win by tossing one inning. His next eight appearances yielded no runs; he picked up two holds along the way. (While holds are not an official statistic recognized by Major League Baseball, they are nevertheless commonly captured on box scores.)13 He lost to the Blue Jays on June 30, tossing two-plus innings but leaving the game with a runner on base that team closer Armando Benítez allowed to score. As the calendar page turned, his return to the American League revealed a formidable 0.87 ERA (one run in 10⅓ innings).
Regan leaned on the veteran right-hander, placing him in 14 games during which he faced 44 batters and allowed only three runs. He garnered a win on July 7 against the White Sox despite facing only two batters. August proved more challenging, as he lost four games, won one, and picked up a save on August 18 against Oakland. The Orioles were in third place behind two solid yet unspectacular clubs; the Red Sox and Yankees would both make the revamped postseason, but the class of the American League resided in the Midwest. The Cleveland Indians romped through the junior circuit en route to a 100-44 record (.694). However, the pinnacle moment of the season occurred on September 6, and Clark had not just a front-row view, but an active role.
Like Clark, Cal Ripken Jr. was born in 1960 but reached the majors in relatively quick fashion. As Clark was compiling a solid 2.55 ERA for the Florida State League Cardinals, Ripken was setting up shop in the left side of the Baltimore infield. On May 30, 1982, his name was penciled into the Orioles lineup, where it would remain uninterrupted until September 19, 1998, for a total of 2,632 consecutive games. The prior record-holder, Lou Gehrig, had seen his own mark end at 2,130 and Ripken stood to pass him on September 6, 1995. Future Hall of Famer Mike Mussina took the mound for the Orioles and handcuffed the now-renamed Anaheim Angels to two runs in 7⅔ innings. The 3-hour 35-minute game was paused in the middle of the fifth to recognize Ripken’s feat, and neither his teammates nor the crowd would allow the contest to resume until the stoic shortstop took a literal lap around the ballpark. With the Orioles ahead 4-1, Mussina retired his first two batters in the top of the eighth before yielding a triple to Jim Edmonds. After a standing ovation, the Camden Yards faithful saw Clark allow a double to Tim Salmon, driving in Edmonds, before Regan played the percentages and brought in lefty specialist Jesse Orosco against the dangerous veteran Chili Davis. For the four months with Baltimore, he appeared in 38 contests, forging two victories, five defeats, one save, seven holds, and a 3.46 ERA. Those figures would warrant a return to the Orioles, but the front office dismissed Regan and brought in Davey Johnson. A hard-nosed manager who had led the Mets to the 1986 World Series title, Johnson had also won two championships with the Orioles in 1966 and 1970 as a second baseman. The team decided not to bring back Clark, granting him free agency on December 21, 1995. He fondly recalled the pitching staff of Mussina, Kevin Brown, Ben McDonald, Jamie Moyer, and Scott Erickson.
Kansas City signed Clark in February 1996 and he made the team out of spring training. He appeared on Opening Day, yielding one hit and one walk while retiring two batters in a 4-2 Royals loss to the Orioles. He appeared in 11 other games in April, allowing runs in seven of them. His sole May contest was strong as he yielded one hit in three innings against Oakland. Ironically, this last game would be his best, but Kansas City sent him to Triple-A Omaha.
At Omaha Clark limited opponents to a 2.56 ERA in 45⅔innings, collecting three wins, two saves, and one loss. The organization placed him on waivers on July 23, with the Astros picking him up for the stretch run. He pitched in five games and allowed 10 runs (eight earned) in 6⅓innings for Houston and was not offered a new contract at the end of the season.
Cleveland signed Clark for 1997 and sent him to Triple-A Buffalo. Displaying his customary versatility, Clark started 10 games (7-3 record), saved three others, and did not feature in 12 decisions. The Indians recalled him and he started four games, losing three and getting a no-decision. After 26⅓ innings, he was placed on waivers and was claimed by the Rangers on August 4. He appeared in nine games, starting five to end the season with a 1-4 record and a 5.87 ERA. His last appearance was against his first team, the Angels, and he finished the contest by hurling 1⅓ innings, striking out Tony Phillips as his last batter. Although he re-signed with the franchise on December 16, the club assigned Clark to Triple-A Oklahoma for the 1998 campaign. A robust 12-5, 3.38 ERA output in 165⅓ innings followed, but Texas did not give him another opportunity in the majors. He signed with Oakland for a 21st season of professional baseball; the Athletics wished to have veteran leadership and guidance for a trio of prospects, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, and Tim Hudson. The 1999 Vancouver Canadians, who would move the following year to Sacramento, employed Clark in 14 games before he retired.
Over more than two decades, Clark accumulated 143 wins (major and minor leagues, excluding the Caribbean circuits). He can boast of a perfect pitching line (nine plate appearances without conceding a base) against Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Alan Trammell, and George Brett. “It wasn’t the big guys who got me,” he recalled as he remembered Greg Gagne besting him (2-for-4). Other memorable hitters also enjoyed success at the plate: Jay Buhner (6-for-10), Wade Boggs (6-for-10), Rickey Henderson (5-for-9) and the ageless Julio Franco, whom he faced more than anyone else (13 plate appearances), and who would reach base seven times with four singles and three uncharacteristic walks. On the opposite side of the ledger, Clark boasts a .667 batting mark, surpassing even Ty Cobb. Granted, his three plate appearances are an infinitesimal fraction of the Georgia Peach’s 13,099, but baseball has always been a game of averages. Minor-league skipper Bob Skinner gave him a few at-bats in the minor leagues; he always had a keen eye at the plate even if his power was nowhere near Babe Ruth’s. He cited Mussina, Brown, and Al Downing among his favorite teammates.
As a testament to Clark’s knowledge and reputation, the Cleveland organization wasted no time adding him to its coaching ranks. He rolled up his sleeves in the 2000 New York-Penn League, a summer sandbox for drafted players, leading the Mahoning Valley Scrappers hurlers to a 3.71 ERA and a runner-up finish to the Staten Island Yankees. He ascended to the Eastern League with the Akron Aeros, nurturing young prospects Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook among others and shaving off almost an entire run from the team’s ERA in his second year (2002). He again worked his magic, this time in 2003 and 2004 for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, who moved from third to first place during his two seasons, though the team’s ERA paradoxically worsened in his second year with the team.
Another of Clark’s former clubs, the Texas Rangers, hired him to instruct their young pitchers. The Texas League’s Frisco RoughRiders turned around their fortunes, moving from fourth to third place, and eventually to consecutive first-place finishes during his 2005-2008 tenure. His pupils included future big leaguers C.J. Wilson, Edison Volquez, Adam Eaton, Armando Galarraga, and Derek Holland. The organization assigned him to Triple A and he first coached the Oklahoma Redhawks (2009-2010) before the club switched affiliations to the Dodgers. The Round Rock Express, formerly an Astros farm club, became the Rangers’ farm team, and Clark instructed the hurlers in 2011-2012.
The Mariners poached Clark and named him the pitching coach for the Jackson Generals, a post he held for one season.14 He was replaced by Lance Painter but remained with the organization as its minor-league pitching coordinator in 2014, a role that allowed him greater oversight over the team’s prospects. The flexibility was quite beneficial as the year gave the Clark family a new milestone.
His son Matt Clark had starred at Riverside Community College in California. He was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2007 draft but opted to return to school. A year later, the San Diego Padres selected him in the 12th round after he had transferred to powerhouse Louisiana State University. He progressed through the farm system and earned ample time with Tucson in the Pacific Coast League, where his father coached the Round Rock Express.
It was tailor-made for Hollywood; a young prospect hoping to inflict pain on his father’s pitching staff. Media loved the story, including a sports-beat reporter named Julia Morales. She covered the event, including Clark the younger’s walk-off home run in the series, and later joined the family by marrying Matt.15 Both the Padres and Mets released him, but Milwaukee saw promise in the first baseman, signing him as a free agent on July 4, 2014. He slugged .605 for the Nashville Sounds before earning a shot at the big leagues in September. His father was “lucky enough to see his first game, first hit, and first home run” during the Brewers’ September schedule.
Milwaukee released Matt in the offseason, but Clark the younger has continued his professional baseball dream with the Dominican, Mexican, and Japanese leagues. The Clarks became the 217th pair of fathers and sons to play in the grandest of stages.16
The Chicago Cubs approached Clark about their pitching coach opportunity with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. A Southern League franchise led by Mark Johnson, the team raised prospects Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, and Kyle Hendricks before they became centerpieces of the curse-breaking 2016 Cubs. Clark stepped down at the beginning of 2019.
Though Clark spent parts of six seasons on big-league rosters, he never went the distance (March through September) on the roster or enjoyed a taste of the postseason. As the 25th anniversary of the Braves 1995 World Series title drew near, Clark was nonchalant: “They have invited me to a few celebrations, but my minor-league commitments have kept me from participating.”
Last revised: February 15, 2021
Terry Clark for graciously agreeing to an interview with the author.
Matt Clark for connecting the author with Terry Clark.
1 University of Colorado at Boulder. “Average Major League Baseball Career 5.6 Years, Says New Study.” ScienceDaily, July 11, 2007. https://sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070709131254.htm.
2 Uyen Mai, “Legendary Coach Maz Passes Away.” Mount San Antonio College Newsroom, March 22, 2019. mtsac.edu/newsroom/news/posts/2019-03-22-coach-maz-passes.html.
3 Unless otherwise specified, quotations from Terry Clark stem from the author’s interview with him on August 16, 2019.
7 Associated Press, “Angels’ Clark Sees Minton Preserve Win Over Indians.” Oxnard (California) Press-Courier, July 8, 1988. news.google.com/newspapers?id=icVdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=P14NAAAAIBAJ&dq=terry-clark%20angels&pg=3417%2C1299766.
8 Buster Olney, “Regan Manages to Realize His Goal,” Baltimore Sun, February 26, 1995. baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1995-02-26-1995057152-story.html.
12 “El legendario Dream Team de Puerto Rico en la Serie del Caribe 1995,” El Diario NY, February 2, 2017. eldiariony.com/2017/02/02/el-legendario-dream-team-de-puerto-rico-en-la-serie-del-caribe-de-1995/.
14 Chris Harris, “Generals Announce Coaching Staff for 2013 Season,” MiLB.com, December 10, 2012. milb.com/jackson/news/generals-announce-coaching-staff-for-2013-season/c-40594668.
15 Jeff Balke, “Julia Morales Will Do Anything to Keep Fans Engaged.” Houstonia, September 2018. houstoniamag.com/articles/2018/8/17/julia-morales-astros.
Terry Lee Clark
October 18, 1960 at Los Angeles, CA (USA)
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