TheBaseballPage.com

Tony Clark

Tony Clark

Position(s):
1B, DH, LF, OF
Born:
June 15, 1972
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 8"
Weight:
205 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-03-1995 with DET

 

Tony Clark

A first round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers in 1990, Tony Clark spurned an offer to play professional basketball to pursue a baseball career. The six-foot-seven inch, switch-hitting first baseman put together four good seasons for the Tigers, peaking at 34 homers in 1998 and 117 RBI in 1997. A quiet man, Clark became a fan favorite, but fell out of favor in Motown due to his streakiness which was often accompanied by slow starts. He ended up bouncing around as a platoon player/pinch-hitter late in his career.

 

High school career

Clark prepped at Valhalla High School in El Cajon, California, then transferred to nearby Christian High School. He averaged 43.7 points per game in basketball in his senior season. He amassed a then-San Diego-area high school basketball record with 2,549 career points, and broke Bill Walton's San Diego high school single-season scoring record with 1,337 points as a senior.


College career
Clark played college basketball at the University of Arizona and San Diego State, where he was the Aztecs top scorer with 11.5 points per game in 1991-92.


Professional baseball career

In a 15-year career, Clark hit .262 with 251 home runs and 824 RBIs in 1,559 games. He was third in Rookie of the Year voting in 1996, when he hit .250 with 27 home runs. His most productive seasons were 1997, with 32 homers and 117 RBIs (though he made 10 errors at first base), 1998, with 34 homers and 103 RBIs (though he made 13 errors at first), and 1999, with 31 home runs and 99 RBIs (though he made 10 errors at first). Clark was selected an All-Star in 2001.

In 2002, Clark hit only .207 with 29 RBIs and three home runs for Boston in 90 games, with a career-low .291 slugging percentage. In 2003 he batted .232 for the New York Mets.

2004

Signed as a bench player, Clark filled in for the New York Yankees in 2004 after Jason Giambi was forced out of the lineup because of an injury. Though he was replaced as the main first baseman by John Olerud late in the season, he still had a few memorable performances.

On June 29, 2004, at Yankee Stadium, Clark hit a deep center field two-run homer off Derek Lowe, to help his team to an 11-3 win over the Red Sox. Clark joined Bernie Williams and Danny Tartabull as the only players to reach the center field bleachers more than once since the remodeled Yankee Stadium opened in 1976. During an August 28 game, Clark hit a career-high 3 home runs in an 18-6 rout of the Blue Jays in Toronto.

2005 - 2008
Clark signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks after the 2004 season. In 2005, he enjoyed success with the D-Backs. In a limited role (349 at bats), he hit .307, belted 30 home runs, and knocked in 87 runs.  In 2006, Clark was injured for most of the season. Although he tried to play through a shoulder injury that required significant surgery to repair, he batted a career-low .197, with a career-low .279 on base percentage, in 132 at bats. He struggled especially against righhanders, batting .125 against them.


In 2007, Clark shared first base with Conor Jackson. He played in 113 games, and batted .249. After the season, his contract was up and on February 10, 2008, Clark agreed to a one-year contract worth $900,000 with the San Diego Padres. On July 17, 2008, he was traded back to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league pitcher Evan Scribner. In order to complete the trade, Clark waived a clause under his contract with the Padres pursuant to which he was to receive $500,000 from the Padres if traded.

In 2008, between the two teams, Clark batted .225 with a .318 slugging percentage. Clark struck out more than 1/3 of the time, with 55 strikeouts in 151 at bats. He struggled especially against right-handers, batting .198 against them.

2009
Clark filed for free agency after the 2008 season. On January 2, 2009, he signed a one-year deal worth $800,000 to remain with the Diamondbacks.

Clark had a startling good performance on Opening Day 2009, hitting 2 home runs to lead the D-Backs to a victory over the Colorado Rockies; fellow switch-hitting teammate Felipe López also homered from both sides of the plate in the same game, making them the first teammates to do so on an Opening Day.

Clark slumped badly thereafter, however, as in his next 18 at bats he only managed to eke out a single. As of May 6 he was batting .179, and had struck out in more than half his at bats. That day Clark was placed on the 15-day disabled list for a lingering wrist ligament injury, and Whitesell, who was hitting .356 for the Reno Aces with a .477 on base percentage, was called up to the Diamondbacks to take his place. Clark suffered the injury during spring training, and re-aggravated it in late April, leaving him unable to swing comfortably from the left side. It was anticipated that the injury could require more than 15 days to heal. On June 19 Clark came off the disabled list and returned to Arizona (after a rehab assignment at Reno in which he batted .160, and during which he turned 37), and Whitesell was optioned back to Reno (after batting .300 with a .447 on base percentage in his second stint with the team). In his first game back with the team, Clark went 0-3 with 2 strikeouts to bring his batting average down to .161, with strikeouts in 55% of his at bats for the season.

Clark struggled on defense as well, as on June 21 in his second game back he dropped a throw to him at first base with two outs in the ninth, allowing the winning run to score for Seattle. The play left players and managers on both sides stunned and speechless. "It's a miserable ending to a rough road trip", manager A.J. Hinch said. His resulting .973 fielding percentage was last among major league first basemen who had played 60 or more innings.

On July 12, 2009, the Diamondbacks released Clark, who was hitting .182 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. They replaced him with Whitesell. Clark said he would continue to work out the next few weeks in the event an opportunity might arise with another team, and that if he doesn't land with another team he might consider broadcasting and coaching, perhaps with the Diamondbacks. Diamondbacks General Manager Josh Byrnes expressed an interest in keeping him with the organization, and Clark said he "would welcome the opportunity.".

Post-Season

Clark played in four post-season series through 2008, two each for the Yankees and the Diamondbacks. In aggregate, he batted .135, with a .158 on base percentage and a .189 slugging percentage, and drove in one run in 37 at bats.

Television

In August 2009, after being released from the Diamondbacks Clark became a studio analyst with the MLB Network.

Baseball Players' Association

Clark has filled in a variety of capacities with the Major League Baseball Players' Association, serving as the club player representative for the Red Sox in 2002 and Diamondbacks as recently as 2006. Clark, along with Mark Loretta, was re-elected as Associate Player Representative on the MLBPA Executive Board upon the ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement on December 8, 2006.

Nickname

During his time in Detroit fans and the media gave Tony the nickname "Tony the Tiger." The nickname came from the Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger and that he was member of the Detroit Tigers

Related Content

This day in baseball history

August 30

  • 2011

    Hugh McQuillan and Heinie Mueller combine to ...

  • 2006

    On August 30, 2006, Boston right-hander Curt Schilling fans ...

  • 1999

    On August 30, 1999, Edgardo Alfonzo of the New York Mets bec ...

More Baseball History

Sponsored Links

 
Tagged:
Tony Clark

Comments

Login or register to post comments

Stay Connected

Share |

Today's Poll

Will Red Sox Repeat in 2014:
Browse Player Profiles