SI Vault
 
WILL POWER
E.M. Swift
May 28, 1990
WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE, GIANTS FIRST BASEMAN WILL CLARK IS A FORMIDABLE FIGURE. AND THE GAME DOES NOT HAVE TO BE BASEBALL
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
May 28, 1990

Will Power

WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE, GIANTS FIRST BASEMAN WILL CLARK IS A FORMIDABLE FIGURE. AND THE GAME DOES NOT HAVE TO BE BASEBALL

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The truth of the matter is, Clark often doesn't think before he speaks, and around a ballpark he is wound so tightly that he is apt to say or do almost anything. After the Giants clinched the National League West title in 1987, a live television feed was hooked up in the Giants locker room, and a reporter asked Clark the obligatory question of how the win felt.

What followed was an expletive that was broadcast loud and clear. The damage done, Clark added, with an amusing lack of perspective, "I've been waiting a long time for this."

His mother and father were watching back home in New Orleans. "Letty died," Bill recalls. "She just died. 'Bill, he didn't say that, did he?' she asked. 'Tell me he didn't.' You can only learn from your mistakes, or someone else's. He was young. We talked with him after the season, and asked him to try to do a little better job with the press."

The Giants, too, talked to him. The seats behind the Giants dugout had become R-rated because of the invective that sometimes poured from Clark's lips after an at bat. "Will wears his feelings on his sleeve," says Rosen. "He's a highly competitive person who resents making an out, and sometimes his expletives have been heard in the stands. So we've asked him to wait till he's off the field to get what's bothering him off his chest."

One Giants season-ticket holder remembers an incident, in early 1988, that—among this fan and his friends, anyway—could have earned Clark yet another moniker: Will the Pill. Clark was standing alone in front of the Giants dugout after a game, and an eight-year-old kid asked him for an autograph. Clark didn't answer, and the child made the mistake of tossing Clark a ball to sign. Clark, who had hit into a double play and made an error during the game, let the ball fall at his feet, then kicked it the length of the dugout. Next he walked over, picked the ball up and threw it onto the field. Then he walked into the clubhouse. A television cameraman had to retrieve the ball for the youngster.

To Clark, baseball is serious business. He doesn't think of himself as an entertainer, or of the game as entertainment. It is a test of skill. And since he believes he is better than any pitcher alive, the only thing that can possibly keep Clark from achieving success is a loss of concentration. Says Rosen, "When he's at the plate, the stands could fall down around him and he wouldn't notice."

Sometimes that's true when he's not at the plate. Sometimes it happens when he's around ordinary people. Kids even.

Clark is trying to improve his image. "I've worked on taking my game face off quicker," he says. "I need to come down off that adrenaline rush."

But it is nothing that he or the Giants are particularly concerned about. After all, people used to consider Ted Williams abrasive, and he didn't turn out too badly. The bottom line on Clark is that he is a baseball player, not a candidate for role model of the month.

Clark remembers a strange incident that occurred in September, when the Giants made their last road trip into Atlanta. Walking down the runway between the dugout and the clubhouse shortly before the game, he heard thwump! thwump! thwump! coming from somewhere beneath the stands. When he went to investigate, he found a group of Braves players shooting arrows at a paper target of a deer tacked to a stack of hay bales. Clark watched in amazement, then left. "I couldn't play baseball like that," he says. "On a cellar-dwelling team, I know my production would go down."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9