Nearly three years ago I read Gaslamp Ball’s account of the feud between Tony Gwynn and Jack Clark. You see it was 2010 then, marking the 20 year anniversary of the feud. At the time I think I had forgotten about the riff but it slowly came back to me as I read.
For those who don’t recall, the dispute between Gwynn and Clark erupted in 1990 during a closed door locker-room meeting. In the March 11th, 1991 edition of Sports Illustrated, Tim Kurkjian wrote:
We started yelling back and forth. So Jack [Clark] is sitting there with a Coke in his hands. He slams it across the room, it breaks open and shoots all over the place, and he says, ‘Hey, everyone in here knows why we’re having this meeting—because we got some selfish——in this room, and they’re [pitcher] Eric Show and Tony Gwynn.’ Eric was shocked. I was shocked.
I thought back in time and I realized that Jack Clark had been a player I absolutely hated as a kid. I hated him on the Cardinals. I disliked him on the Padres. And when he left for Boston I went back to hating him.
Something inside of me said that this hate, as irrational as it was, might actually be warranted. So in May of 2010 I set out in search of damning evidence that Jack Clark was in fact a selfish %^&# himself. It’s more than three years later but with the Cardinals in the playoffs and Jack Clark taking heat for accusing Albert Pujols of being a juicer now seems like the perfect time to revisit the jerk we know affectionately as . . . Jack Clark.
Let’s begin in 1982 . . .
On August 23rd, 1982, Ron Fimrite of Sports Illustrated wrote the following:
And, says Clark, the field is too slow, the batter’s box too bumpy, and the chain link outfield fences that you can see through from home plate look unreachable. The ball park, he says, keeps him from being the superstar he feels he should be.
Wait a minute. Jack Clark cared about the oppressive offensive environment at Candlestick Park and felt that certain features of the park kept him from being a super-beloved-killer-matinee-idol-with-wit-and-charm-and-gaudy-homerun-and-RBI-totals sort of ball player? And he was complaining about his numbers during a season in which the Giants finished in 3rd place in the NL West? What a selfish %$#@%&*.
Jack Clark also took umbrage with the media back in ’82:
But that isn’t the half of it. The Bay Area press harps on his mistakes, Clark says, at the expense of his accomplishments. So what if he starts off the field before there are three outs—he’s done it twice.
Poor Jack Clark. It’s too bad he wasn’t given his proper due, but honestly, he really comes off as a selfish %$#@%&* when he keeps bringing up his personal accomplishments.
In 1982 Jack Clark played for Hall of Famer, Frank Robinson. I wonder how Clark and the hard-nosed old school fella got along:
Besides, as he [Frank Robinson] has told the newspapers, Clark doesn’t help the team when he’s not hitting, because he won’t bunt, doesn’t run the bases very well and is erratic in the outfield.
So Clark was asked to do something by his manager and refused to do it? What a selfish %$#@%&*.*
*Although, in Jack Clark’s defense, he might have been on to something in regards to the bunting.
The above story came during the formative years of Jack Clark’s career. He was but a tender 26 years of age. At 26, even I was prone to bouts of immaturity. Weren’t we all? Perhaps it’s not fair to judge a man when he’s still going through the maturation process. Let’s move on and explore Clark’s stay in Boston when he had reached the grown-up age of 35.
To be continued . . .
I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com