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So, hello, New York and the American League, not exactly Clark's Camelot. After he left it a year later, he announced that he "hated that damn league," where the games "all last three and a half to four hours" and the umpires "don't have a clue."
Hello, San Diego. "This is my last stop, period," he said when the Yankees traded him there soon after the '88 season ended. But two years later he was a free agent again. Not only was Clark not re-signed, but 31 employees either were fired or left under pressure. "Not a mass murder," says one person who lost his job, "more of a serial killing." Clark blamed "our little friend, the psychologist"—meaning Riddoch.
What burned Clark up about Riddoch, with whom he used to go fishing, was that he believed the manager helped fire his favorite "little" guy—Dent, the trainer. "That's when he decided he wanted out," says Tammy. "His eyebrows went totally black." Only Clark would leave a town because the trainer got fired.
Hello, Boston, Clark's fifth town in eight years. "It's just a business," he says. "It'd be nice to play a whole season in every city." At this rate, he might pull it off.
And so it became the Hub's turn to try to get a handle on this dark package of talent and temper. Summer has barely begun, and already Boston fans have sampled plenty from Clark's menu: an 0-for-22 slump and later an 0-for-19 one, a string of seven strikeouts in seven at bats (on the eighth, he hit into a double play), a willingness to talk about his poor hitting, a bust-out streak in mid-June that included four home runs in five games, periodic outbursts like a seven-RBI day on July 5, and the irascible, unbendable Jack Clark Way of Justice.
For instance, when a reporter wrote about the wife of one of the players having problems with her pregnancy, Clark was so incensed about "getting into somebody's family life" that he organized five or six stars—including Roger Clemens—to boycott the press that night. When one writer approached, Clark promised to deposit him "on his ass." The irony was that up to that point, Clark and the beat writers were getting along famously. During a slump Clark would take extra batting practice, and the beat writers would shag the balls back for him.
Then there was the game-ending called third strike he took on May 25 against the Tigers, after which he threw a helmet in the general direction of home plate umpire Ted Hendry. He was fined $100. "It was a bad call," says Clark. "Cecil Fielder the next day told me it wasn't a good pitch.... It was like, here, since [the umpire] just wants to walk away, I'm going to leave him with something. That's a bad call, and he deserves to know about it."
Then came his second dance with an American League umpire. One night against the Angels in Anaheim, umpire Rick Reed called Boston's Jody Reed out on strikes, and Clark was personally offended. He got on the ump, who pulled off his mask, came over to the dugout, and according to Clark, pointed at him and said, "Get used to it."
Could it be that some of the American League umpires are ganging up on him for that "the umpires don't have a clue" line? "When a guy tells you, 'Get used to it,' that tells me that they must all have gotten together," Clark says. "The umpires must have made up their minds from the league office and [umpires association general counsel] Richie Phillips saying, "Clark bad-mouthed us when he left.' It's like, 'The word's out on you; we're gonna get you.' "
And then came the topper, a column written by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Glenn Dickey on June 12, in the depths of Clark's 0-for-22 slump. Dickey quoted Clark, a former first baseman, as saying that he didn't think he could be effective if he wasn't playing in the field, that the Red Sox had promised he would rotate into the field ("I don't know why I even have a glove," Clark was quoted as saying), that Red Sox manager Joe Morgan was too concerned about his image with the media to risk trouble if Clark botched his time in the field ("In Boston, the media really runs the team") and that he didn't see any reason why the Red Sox would keep him around. In other words, your typical column on Jack Clark.