‘This is my Hall of Fame’

SAN FRANCISCO – Will Clark always saved his best when the lights are brightest. At Oracle Park on Saturday, 22 years and nearly three decades after his last game in orange and black, an emotional Clarke, once again, was ready for the moment.

Fifty minutes after the pregame ceremony on Saturday, the Bay Area icon-turned-Southern kid paused his speech by punching him in the air with his left fist and declaring, “I’m gonna be ‘the thrill’ Clark. I’m part of San Francisco.” And I’m a giant forever.”

Moments earlier, a black cloth draped over his number in left field dropped to reveal Clarke’s number 22 hanging between Monte Irvine’s number 20 and Willie Mays’ number 24, causing his number 13 to be retired by the franchise. Done – more than any club but the Yankees – and a long time coming.

Clark, who became the face of a generation of Giants baseball in the late ’80s, said that he wrote the speech within a day or two after receiving news that his numbers would one day increase to the Rafters (or, more Precisely, hanging from the third ceiling in the foul zone of left field). But he was forced to wait once the ceremony, originally scheduled for 2020, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I had two years to rehearse it,” Clarke later laughed, his most emotional moment coming from addressing Mike Crucco, his former partner and current Giants broadcaster, whom he called his “best friend and mentor. ” Told.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JULY 30: Former San Francisco Giants’ Will Clark (22) beats former San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds (25) during his jersey retirement ceremony before the Giants game against the Chicago Cubs at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif. Hugs. ., on Saturday, July 30, 2022. (Shay Hammond/Bay Area Newsgroup)

Crucco and his wife, Jennifer, opened their home to Clark for their first two seasons in San Francisco, where, Crucco said, they saw him eat sweet cereal and watch cartoons off the field before turning him into an animal between the lines. saw.

“Perhaps the most important thing he did was that he made it good to be a Giants fan again,” Crucco said, fighting back tears.

In retirement, Clark has continued to make an impact as a special assistant. In 2008, he got a call to rejoin the organization and started serving in the same capacity that he has till date. He said the day he got a call from then-managing partner Bill Newcomb was “the best day ever”. Current chairman Larry Baer said the Giants’ three World Series trophies “have their fingerprints on them.” This season, he has been cited as the Giants’ highest draft pick since catcher Joy Bart, during his transition to the Giants.

Mays couldn’t appear in person, but it took only a few sentences to send possibly the most valid message from the entire cast of speakers: “Welcome to the club. You earned it.”

After Mace and before Bonds, there was Clarke. 2 overall selection from the 1985 draft, President and General Manager Al Rosen told him, “We have to change this organization.”

San Francisco, Ca - July 30: Former San Francisco Giants' Will Clark (22) Points Before Throwing The First Pitch After His Jersey Retirement Ceremony Before The Giants Game Against The Chicago Cubs At Oracle Park In San Francisco, Calif. Lamps.  July 30, 2022.  (Shay Hammond/Bay Area Newsgroup)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JULY 30: Former San Francisco Giants’ Will Clark (22) points before throwing the first pitch after his jersey retirement ceremony before the Giants’ game against the Chicago Cubs at Oracle Park on Saturday in San Francisco, Calif. lamps. July 30, 2022. (Shay Hammond/Bay Area Newsgroup)

The Giants drafted Clark second overall in 1985, and by Opening Day 1986, he was in the big leagues.

When Clark entered the organization, San Francisco had accumulated a dry spell of 15 straight seasons without a playoff appearance or even a third-place finish in the NL West. Within two years of Clark’s arrival, the Giants were back at the top of the division and, by 1989, the top of the entire National League.

Kruko recalled his first spring training start from Clark’s rookie season. He struggled to make up for some shortcomings in his first appearance, and Clark called a timeout from first base. He came to the mound with a message: “Hey, if we’re going to win this game, you have to be better than this.”

“I absolutely hate to lose,” Clarke said in her speech.

This was the attitude that led the team from 100 losses in 1985 to a post-season berth in 1987.

Clarke’s first manager, Roger Craig, provided one of the more memorable moments of the ceremony in a short video message: “You were a great bowler, but you would have been much better if you had listened to me,” he said with laughs from the crowd. .

From 1986 to 1993, Clark:

  • Voted as an All-Star starter in five straight seasons (1988–92), won two Silver Sluggers (1989, ’91) and one Gold Glove (’91).
  • Never batted below 280 (a score matched by two giants this season, neither of whom has qualified for the batting title)
  • Scored more walk-off hits (11) than all but three players in SF-era history
  • Was named MVP of the 1989 NLCS, a highlight of his post-season résumé with a .426 average and three home runs—one big, Greg Maddux’s Grand Slam, in that ’89 series—in 16 games.

    San Francisco, Ca - July 30: Former San Francisco Giants' Will Clark (22) Throws A Ball Into The Crowd During His Jersey Retirement Ceremony Before The Giants Game Against The Chicago Cubs At Oracle Park On Saturday, July In San Francisco, California .  30, 2022.  (Shay Hammond/Bay Area Newsgroup)
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JULY 30: Former San Francisco Giants’ Will Clark (22) throws a ball into the crowd during his jersey retirement ceremony before the Giants game against the Chicago Cubs at Oracle Park on Saturday, July in San Francisco, California . 30, 2022. (Shay Hammond/Bay Area Newsgroup)

Then came new owner Peter Magowan, who saved the franchise from an impending move to Tampa Bay. Bond then overlapped with Clark for a season and ushered in a new era of Giants baseball. Then Posey and Linscum and Cain and Bumgarner, who kept it up and could be the next ones to retire their numbers.

Posey and Bruce Bochi, who were in attendance on Saturday, said Clarke, “I just have one favor to ask of you guys. When you guys are inducted into Cooperstown, I want to honor you guys.” I would like to stay there

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