You know, kids, Jack Clark didn’t used to be the rotund, angry guy bellowing about Albert Pujols and steroids, and suspicions and all of that stuff. He wasn’t the guy who got fired from talk radio for that. He didn’t used to be a sad guy who bankrupted himself buying all manner of sports cars, losing his home in the process.
Jack Clark used to be a tight, sinewy, coiled cobra. An angry cobra, whipping his bat around like a snake’s tail, ready to swat baseballs great distances and with great anger. Jack Clark didn’t play baseball like a game, you never heard him say “Let’s Play Two,” or “The umpire doesn’t say ‘Work Ball.'” He was at his best when he played with a snarl.
Jack Clark played baseball with a barely controlled fury, like was once said of Baltimore Colts’ linebacker Mike Curtis. Jack Clark’s rage playing baseball was like a part of his anatomy, like a muscle, he flexed it and built it up. And when the game was on the line, he was by far the most dangerous hitter at the plate, the one guy pitchers absolutely did not want to see on deck in the late innings.
And I loved him.
I imitated his swing, that twitching, coiling anticipation, that furious whip through the zone. He played for the San Francisco Giants then, and I envied Giants fans for having him on their side.