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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.
Baseball, hunting 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?
After starring 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 will come.
Who will come?
That's what 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.