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This is the life that Jack Built
Rick Reilly
July 22, 1991
Red Sox slugger Jack Clark looks back in anger
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July 22, 1991

This Is The Life That Jack Built

Red Sox slugger Jack Clark looks back in anger

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Usually, Clark stands behind everything he says, but this time he wouldn't touch it with a foul pole. He denied all and called Dickey tricky. He says he thought Dickey was just talking to him about possibly writing a book with him, and, indeed, no tape recorder or notebook was used. "I didn't say it," says Clark. "He's lying.... Why would I say that? The team is in first place. There are a hundred games left. I've had slow starts before." So hacked off was Clark that he considered using his day off to go back to San Francisco and "grab this guy around the neck."

Still, the dialect and some of the Clarkian philosophy sounded deadly accurate. Dickey stands by his story: "He said those things.... He hits two home runs in two days, and, suddenly. Boston is great again."

For right now, Clark says Boston is great. When he signed, he told Boston general manager Lou Gorman that the day he wore a Red Sox uniform would be "my proudest day in baseball." And, believe it or not, he still feels that way. "I'm in the place I want to be the most to finish my career," he said last week. "This is the best peace of mind I've ever had playing baseball."

Uh-oh. Not a good sign.

These are the toys that Jack owns: A $770,000 red Ferrari F-40, 15 classic collectible cars in perfectly restored condition (he wants to start a car museum), and, of course, a top-fuel dragster with a five-man crew, two support vans and a customized semi and trailer and a world-class driver (Tom McEwen), all of which has cost Clark nearly $2 million since January. Total prize money won so far: About $65,000. But there is hope the investment might yet pay dividends. Last week McEwen drove the car to victory at the Summernationals at Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., one of the most prestigious titles on the summer drag-racing circuit.

"It reflects my personality," Clark says about drag racing. "The thing could go 300 miles an hour or it could have a giant explosion. There's no telling."

But it's not the money spent or the money won, is it? It's the statement it makes: Yeah, I was a rebel. Yeah, I was a low-rider. But I made it big. I made it here without your help, I made it here without your approval, and if you don't like it, you can go die.

But the weird thing about the cars and the dragster and all the money and all the success is that instead of it being the ultimate slap at his father, the ultimate answer to "Weren't you the one who said I wouldn't amount to anything?"—instead, it brought father and son together.

A few years ago, a financial adviser allegedly swindled Clark out of $700,000 in a real estate deal. That set Clark back a ways, and not just in his passbook. Who could a loner trust now? Who knew the meaning of a buck? Who was the most self-sufficient, independent, cantankerous boil of a man he knew? His own father. Mr. Triple A Credit Rating himself. He bought his parents a house in Blackhawk, and Jack put his father to work managing his finances. They began talking to each other again.

"I knew they'd get together someday," says Jennie.

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