Remember Jack Clark? Oh of course you do. His evil home run for the Red Birds in game 6 of the 1985 NLCS sunk the Dodgers pennant hopes. But did you know that the man had been screwing the Dodgers for years prior? That’s right, Clark’s dastardly deeds began when he was a….oh you guessed it, a Giant. Another ex-Giant on the countdown. Clark was a much maligned malcontent who complained about everything and bad mouthed just about every player, manager he ever played for. He even bad mouthed the fans. As a result he wasn’t very well liked. Without further delay, I bring you the number three Dodger villain of all time….
3. Jack Clark
The right fielder/first baseman made his MLB debut with the Giants in 1975. Clark was a big right handed hitter, who played for 18 MLB seasons for five different teams. (Giants, Cardinals, Yankees, San Diego, and Boston)
Clark was a three-time all-star and a well known slugger. During 11 of his 18 seasons he hit 20 or more home runs, and drove in 90 or more runs five times. Clark finished his career with 340 home runs, and 1180 runs batted in. He wasn’t a bad hitter either, finishing with a career .267 average, and .379 OBP. His patience at the plate led to all of those great on base percentages. Clark led the league in walks three times (87, 89, and 90), and drew 100 or more walks in four seasons.
Clark was known as “Jack the Ripper” for his infamous power stroke. Clark was a certified Dodger killer in every sense of the word. In 1985 after switching to first base to avoid injury, Clark blasted 22 home runs to help lead the Cardinals to the NLCS. Their opponent was the Dodgers, led by manager Tommy Lasorda, and pitchers Fernando Valenzuela, and Orel Hershiser.
Clark was a head case, known for bad mouthing his teammates and fans. First Clark complained about candlestick park being too cold and windy. On second thought, that one I’ll give him a pass on since Candlestick was an awful awful place to play Baseball. But he also didn’t get along with then manager Frank Robinson.
When Clark was playing for the Yankees, he couldn’t get along with manager Lou Piniella and requested a trade. Once he was traded to the Padres, he began complaining about well, everything. He complained and bad mouthed Tony Gwynn Sr. for his bunting. Claiming Gwynn was padding his batting average by bunting and not getting hits with runners in scoring position. Clark went on to say….
“No one bothers Tony Gwynn because he wins batting titles, but the Padres finish fourth or fifth every year,” ~ Jack Clark On Tony Gwynn Sr.
He then went on to call Gwynn selfish, and former Padre’s manager Greg Riddoch a snake.
“He’s a bad bad man. He’s a snake. He’s sneaky. Well not just a snake, but a s-s-s-n-n-n-a-k-e.” ~Jack Clark on former Padre’s manager Gregg Riddoch
Clark went back to the American League and then began talking smack about players over there as well. He bad mouthed the padre’s fans by saying they cheer and boo for the wrong things, and then called the entire town of San Diego stupid.
“Everything that they should cheer for they’d boo for, and everything they should boo for they’d cheer for … Tony, he’s perfect for them. He just plays the whole thing up, and the town is so stupid that they can’t see.” ~ Jack Clark on San Diego
Clark even complained about the American league, saying that he hated it because every game lasted 3.5 to 4 hours.
“I hate that damn league. Every game lasts 3 1/2 to 4 hours. No wonder the fans are bored over there.” ~ Jack Clark on the American League
Real classy Jack, real classy.
1985 NLCS vs. Dodgers
While Clark may have been infamous for his nasty comments and degradations of his former players, and mangers, but Dodger fans remember and despise him most for his evil pennant clinching home run in game 6 of the 1985 NLCS off of reliever Tom Niedenfuer.
The Dodgers had jumped out to a 2-0 series lead when the Cardinals stormed back to win the next three games in St. Louis. Game 5 was one of the most painful games in Dodger lore which involved Ozzie Smith hitting a walk-off home run against Tom Niedenfuer, which was his first career home run as a left handed hitter. If you remember that was the game where Jack Buck made the famous call “Go Crazy folks! Go crazy!” Ughhh.
The series shifted back to Dodger Stadium for game 6, with the Dodgers needing to win to force a game 7. With the Dodgers leading 5-4 in the top of the ninth frame and two outs, and the Cardinals threatening with runners in scoring position, Tommy made one of his biggest mistakes of his managerial career. Tommy rarely ever made mistakes like this, but this one was a whopper. Tommy called for Tom Niedenfuer again, but this time instead of intentionally walking Clark to pitch to the rookie Andy Van Slyke (who was waiting on deck) Tommy decided instead to roll the dice and pitch to Clark. The result was not pretty. Yeah, let’s just say the result sucked balls.
“ And Lasorda gets the answer to his rhetorical question” ~ Vin Scully
The three run home run put the game and the Dodger’s pennant hopes on ice for good. Leaving Tommy muttering to himself in the dugout about why he didn’t walk Jack Clark. Still to this day, Dodger fans and Baseball fans alike wonder why Tommy didn’t do the prudent thing and walk Clark. I guess we’ll never know.
If it makes anyone feel any better, Clark experienced more problems off the field after his playing days. A lengthy publicized bankruptcy preceded years later by him being fired from his radio sports talk show after he accused Albert Pujols (who was with the Cardinals at the time) of using PEDs.
Should any of us shed a tear that Clark went bankrupt and got himself fired for making a stupid accusation? Not a chance. You reap what you sow, Clark, you reap what you sow.