She had also
better like the taste of boar. Last season LaCoss and Clark must have set some
sort of major league record by bagging three wild pigs during a hunt in
northern California on an off day in the middle of the pennant race. They also
occasionally go out to a ranch near Modesto to shoot squirrels. And to keep his
shooting eye sharp, Clark, who estimates he goes through about 25,000 shells a
year, shoots skeet twice a week during the season when the Giants are home in
San Francisco. He consistently breaks 97 or 98 targets out of 100.
and a Type A personality. You don't have to look much further than those three
things to get a handle on Will the Thrill.
Work is almost an
obsession with me," Clark says. "I can be tough to live with. Maybe
that's why nobody lives with me. When you live with somebody else, you have to
learn to be flexible, and I'm not too flexible."
When Clark broke
into the big leagues, he didn't quietly ease into the show the way a car merges
into traffic on a freeway. He came hurtling down the ramp at 80 mph, like a
hot-rodder full of juice. Ain't I a masher?
for the Olympic team in 1984, he went back to Mississippi State. The next year,
he won the Golden Spikes Award as the top collegiate player in the country
while leading the Bulldogs to the College World Series with a .420 average, 25
homers and 77 RBIs in 65 games. In June 1985, when Clark was a junior, the
Giants made him the second player drafted in the nation, and they assigned him
to their Class A team in Fresno. Clark homered twice in his first professional
game and helped Fresno win the California League title.
In 1986 he moved
up to the bigs. The Giants had lost 100 games the year before, and Clark was
promoted as a rookie who could make an immediate impact. He won the first base
job at spring training, then homered in his first big league at bat—off a Nolan
Ryan fastball, of all things, in the Astrodome. In his debut at Candlestick
Park, Clark homered again.
Fetch it and he
Giants catcher Bob Brenly nicknamed him: Will the Thrill. And Clark took to it
right away, inscribing THRILL on the back of his helmet. It was more than some
of the team's veterans could bear. Clark wasn't the type to sit quietly and
observe how a major leaguer was supposed to act. He was a talker in the locker
room, the rah-rah type, just as he had always been.