Jun 16, 2016

Head of The MLB Players Union & Early 2000's Mets First Baseman: Tony Clark (2003)

Anthony Christopher Clark was born on June 15, 1972 in Newton, Kansas. The tall six foot eight Clark was a star basketball player in high school at El Cajon, California.

He broke a San Diego high school area record for points in a season & a career, averaging 43.7 points per game. The switch hitting first baseman was also a star baseball player getting drafted in the first round (second pick overall) by the Detroit Tigers in 1990. By 1994 he was belting 23 HRs with 99 RBIs at AAA Toledo. Clark then hit 14 more in 1995 and although he was hitting for power he was striking out quite often.

That season he got a September call up to the Tigers hitting his first career HR in Toronto a week after his debut. Clark would play the next six seasons in Detroit as the teams main first baseman, becoming known as “Tony the Tiger”. He had three 30 plus HR seasons, and drove in 99 runs or better three times as well.

In his rookie year he was third in the A.L. Rookie of the year voting with 27 HRs & 72 RBIs batting .250. The next season he hit 32 HR, the first of three straight thirty plus HR seasons. That year he drove in 117 runs (6th in the AL). In 1998 he batted .291 with 34 HRs 37 doubles & 103 RBIs. The big power hitter also struck out over 100 times four straight seasons, five times overall in his career.
In 4532 career at bats he struck out 1209 times lifetime (145th all time).

Clark made his only All Star appearance in 2001 when he batted .287 with 16 HRs & 75 RBIs. It was his last season with the Tigers before getting placed on waivers. Clark then spent one year in Boston, hitting just three HRs in 90 games there. He was then signed by the New York Mets as a free agent for the 2003 season.

The 2003 Mets had Jason Phillips penciled in as the teams main first baseman, but Clark managed to get into 80 games at the position & 125 games overall due to his power. In his first Mets game he hit a two run HR at Shea Stadium against the Montreal Expos. On April 18th he hit an 8th inning HR off Florida’s Vladimir Nunez which broke a 3-3 tie & turned out to be the game winner. Clark also had a few big singles during the 2003 season, hitting a game winning base hit against the Philadelphia Phillies Terry Adams on May 21st.

Then on July 1st, his base hit against Montreal's Julio Manon scored Joe McEwing with another game winning walk off single. By the All Star break Clark had ten HR but was batting just .216.

At the start of August in a five game stretch he hit five HRs with nine RBIs while going on a hit streak that lasted seven of nine games. On August 5th he had one of his biggest days as a Met in a game at Shea Stadium against the Cardinals. He hit two HRs & had two run double driving in five runs in the Mets 13-5 victory. He hit six HRs in the month but then struggled in September without hitting any long balls.

Phillips finished second on the club in HRs with 16, hitting 13 doubles while driving in 43 runs & batting .232. He posted a .472 slugging % but only a .300 on base % striking out 73 times. He was let go to free agency at the end of the season, as the Mets planned on using Mike Piazza at first base the next season.

He played in 80 games at first base for New York that season posting a .992 fielding % just four errors.

Phillips went to the A.L. New York club putting up almost identical numbers 16 HRs & 49 RBIs but only batted .221. He got some playing time at first base when Jason Giambi went down with injuries.

That year he got into his first post season series, batting .143 in the ALCS. Phillips moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three seasons, having a big 2005. He hit 30 HRs with 22 doubles 106 hits & 87 RBIs while batting a career high .304 playing in 130 games. His .997 fielding % was third best in the NL.

In 2007 he got into another post season series that year, going 0-6 in the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. He then hit .222 against Colorado in the NLCS Rockies sweep.

In 2008 he began the year at San Diego but was traded back to Arizona finishing his 15 year career in 2009. In 15 seasons he hit .262 with 1188 hits with 251 HRs (201st all time) 233 doubles, 11 triples a .339 on base % & 824 RBIs.



Retirement: After getting released in August 2009 he became an analyst with the MLB Network. Clark had been a MLB Player rep. when he was with the Boston Red Sox in 2002 & Diamond Backs in 2006. He then became a director of player services, acting as union chief Micahel Wieners' liaison to its members.  

In December of 2013  after the death of Michael Weiner, Clark was unanimously voted as the first former player to become head of the ML Players Union. Most players were ecstatic to have a former player in that position.

The Mets Curtis Granderson said: "The idea of him being a player, you never forget that as part of his resume, but that's not all he is. "For some reason people have coupled him to that category, but he is by far more than that and will continue to be more than that. That's just a chapter in his background. This is a new chapter and there will be many new chapters."



Clark describes this era of post steroid baseball as “The rights that currently exist in the collective bargaining agreement afford all those involved the opportunity to maximize your earning potential, on both sides of the equation. That system has worked well.”

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