The Po' Boy is
known as a baseball hangout—with players, alums and coaches, many of them from
Will's old school, Jesuit High School, gathered around the tables to chew the
fat—a hardball oasis in a football town. That's one of the things Clark likes
best about spending the off-season at home. He can return every fall and be
left more or less in peace while the New Orleans Saints are given the celebrity
treatment. It is a far cry from his hero's status in San Francisco, where Clark
has been tabbed by TV's Evening Magazine as one of the Bay Area's 10 most
The Po' Boy
hasn't changed much over the years, except for the signed poster of the Thrill
in his Giants uniform on the wall behind the cash register. It's the only
decoration in the place. Long tubes of exposed fluorescent lights flicker over
the blue linoleum floor. Overhead fans push around the heavy air. A cooler full
of Barq's root beer stands opposite the deli-style counter, which features
fixings for the poor-boy sandwiches that are the specialties of the
house—shrimp, meatballs and catfish. A big picture window faces the street,
from which a flea-bitten dog wanders in every afternoon to be fed a plateful of
These are Clark's
roots. He is third-generation New Orleans—he was born and, except for four
years that the family lived in Hattiesburg and Monroe, La., raised there—and he
calls off-season at home his "get back to sanity routine." He is just
plain Will here, the scrawny kid with the goofy grin who grew up to be one of
the best baseball players in the land. But it is Bill who commands the most
respect in the room. Will hangs on every word as Bill tells the story of the
time that Will's team was beaten 1-0 in a Babe Ruth tournament, even though its
pitcher threw a no-hitter. The other pitcher, Bill relates, threw a one-hitter,
and the lone run was scored on some sort of an error. Will remembers the game
too, and he grins.
got the one hit?" Will asks.
doesn't miss a beat. "George Herra," he says.
hardens in an incredulous frown. Could his father really believe that?
true," Bill continues. "George Herra. I'll bet you."
bull!" Will protests. "I did!"
Bill winks at the
other men as they laugh. "Got him that time, didn't I?"
The men continue
to discuss baseball for a while, then Bill is cajoled into talking about the
days when he played pool to supplement his income. He didn't pick up the sport
until he was 16, and before he struck his first ball, he read a book on the
theory of pool. "I got my car, my house and my education because of
pool," Bill says dispassionately. "I wasn't a hustler. I used to tell
guys, 'I didn't come to hustle you. I came to beat you.' " The apple, as
they say, never falls very far from the tree. "One thing about a game of
skill, you know how good you are," says Bill. "I don't have to have a
derrick fall on my head to know if I'm better than you."