Mark Clark: 1990's Mets Pitcher (1996 - 1997)

Mark Willard Clark
was born May 12th, 1968, in Bath, Illinois. The six-foot five right-handed pitcher was first drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1988.

In 1988 Clark began his pro career pitching in the New York Penn League. In 1989 he went 14-9 with a 2.44 ERA for A ball Savannah. In 1990 he was 8-13 going between A & AA still in the Cardinals minor leagues.

MLB Career: Clark got a September 1991 call up & made his MLB debut in relief of a 6-2 loss to San Diego. In his second game he would make his first career start coming against the New York Mets. The second Mets batter he faced; Howard Johnson hit a two run HR off him. Clark took a no decision in the 6-2 loss to New York. 

On September 30th, he earned his first career victory in a win against the Montreal Expos.

In 1992 he began the year at AAA Louisville going 4-4 with a 2.80 ERA. He got back up to the Cardinals staff by June, getting beat up for five runs & ten hits at Philadelphia, in his return. He went 0-3, before beating the Padres in San Diego for his first win. He would lose seven of his last eight starts through September, going 3-10 on the season with a 4.45 ERA He struck out just 44 batters in 113.1 innings of work while walking 36.

Cleveland Career: In 1993 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Mark Whiten. He won his
first game with the Indians beating the World Champion Toronto Blue Jays, although he gave up five runs. Clark then struggled & pitched out of the bullpen for eleven games on the season. He lost time due to an injury, then returned in September & won three straight games. He pitched
into the eighth inning or beyond three times that month as well. On September 25th, he had a complete game win over the Milwaukee Brewers allowing just two runs & striking out six in the 6-2 victory.

In 1994 Clark got off to a great start & was 8-1 by mid-June, with three complete game victories. That year, the baseball strike ended the season in July. Clark was 11-3 (10th most wins in the AL) a .786 winning % (fourth best in the AL) with a 3.82 ERA. 

In 1995 the Cleveland Indians won the AL Pennant with Clark going 9-7 with a 5.27 ERA. Clark got lost in the mix of a pitching staff consisting of Orel Hershiser (16 wins) Charles Nagy (16 wins) Dennis Martinez (12 wins) & rookie Chad Ogea (8 wins). He did not see any post season action & wasn't in their future plans. 
In parts of four seasons in Cleveland he was 27-15 with a 4.46 ERA. 

Mets Career: At the end of Spring Training 1996, Clark was traded to the New York Mets for Ryan Thompson and Reid Cornelius.

1996: Clark was penciled in as the Met as the fifth starter behind Generation K's Jason Isringhausen & Paul Wilson, along with Bobby Jones & Pete Harnisch.

On April 6th Clark debuted with the Mets, allowing just two runs in his first start, but that day the Mets were shut out by Danny Darwin of the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-0. In his next start he allowed five runs to the Rockies at Coors Field in Colorado taking a 6-5 loss.

On April 25th, he earned his first Mets win, it came in St. Louis, as he pitched a complete game allowing three runs on seven hits to the Cardinals. Clark had a rough start with the Mets ending up 1-5 by the middle of May with a 4.37 ERA. 

But from that point thru mid-July, he went 9-1, in twelve starts. He had a personal, six game win streak & pitched into the eighth inning or beyond five times during that stretch.

On May 18th, during the Mets West Coast Road trip, he beat the Giants with a complete game win, in a 14-5 Mets win. On May 22nd, four days later in Los Angeles, Clark beat Hideo Nomo & the Dodgers, shutting them out for seven innings in the 3-2 win.

On May 28th, back on a home stand at Shea Stadium he shut out the Giants for seven innings in a 4-0 Mets win. On June 2nd, Clark lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Ishmael Valdez (eight innings) & the Dodgers. He pitched seven innings & Dave Mlicki pitched two shutout innings as well, as Todd Hollinsworth's RBI single was the only run of the game. In is next start he earned a win in Florida, then On June 12th, Clark struck out a season high nine batters, in a 3-2 win over Greg Maddux & the Braves.

After a no decision he won two more games to close out the month, allowing two runs in each outing to beat the Reds at home & the Astros in Houston. On July 11th, Clark allowed just one run to Houston at Shea Stadium to earn his ninth win. On July 16th, he reached double figures in wins for the second time in his career, with a victory over Curt Schilling & the Phillies.

On July 21st, the Expos broke his win streak, from there he had three more poor starts losing three straight decisions. In those games, he allowed four or more runs three times. He went 4-2 the rest of the way. 

Clark finished up 1996 with the most wins on the staff (14). He led the club in that category as well 
as innings (212) strike outs (142) starts (32) & ERA (3.43). He threw two complete games and went into the 8th inning or beyond, on nine different occasions. Unfortunately, the Generation K pitching staff failed & the Mets finished a disappointing 71-91. That year they fired Dallas Green & the Bobby Valentine era began.

1997: Clark got to start the second game of the Mets season, at Shea Stadium against the San Diego Padres. He gave up three runs over 6.1 innings earning no decision in the Met loss. 

At the end of April, he won three straight games, pitching seven innings each time. On April 29th he shut out the Reds in those seven innings of a 3-1 win. On May 21st Clark pitched eight shutout innings to beat Al Leiter & the Florida Marlins bullpen 2-1. Edgardo Alfonso homered off Leiter & Bernard Gilkey homered off Mark Hutton for the difference.

Two Hit seven Inning Game:
On June 14th, in the first week of inter league play, Clark pitched one of his best games ever, almost making Mets history. 
The Boston Red Sox came to Shea Stadium for the first time since Game #7 of the 1986 World Series. Mark Clark took the mound against Tim Wakefield. At bat he hit the only HR of his career, a solo shot in the th inning.

Clark threw seven innings of no-hit baseball. In the 8th inning, the effort was ruined when Reggie Jefferson & Nomar Garciaparra both collected base hits. Manager, Bobby Valentine then took out Clark as he received a standing ovation from the Shea faithful. The Mets went on an eventual to a 5-2 victory.

On June 30th he had his worst game giving up eight earned runs to the Tigers in an interleague
game at Shea Stadium, in that game three Tigers hit HRs off him. In July he struggled going1-2 with a terrible seven run outing in LA taking his seventh loss to get to 7-7 on the year.

Clark was a work horse for the 1997 Mets, pitching 142 innings in 23 games, while going 8-7 with a 4.25 ERA into early August. On August 7th he collected his last Mets win, coming against the Rockies at Shea to get to 8-7. He was then traded to the Chicago Cubs, completing a trade that sent Lance Johnson & Manny Alexander to Chicago in exchange for Brian McRae, Mel Rojas and Turk Wendell.

Post Mets Career: In Chicago, he went 6-1 the rest of the way helping the Cubs to a playoff berth. 

Post Season: In Clark's ten-year career, he pitched for five different teams, as this was his only post season appearance. In the NLDS opener to the Braves, he gave up four runs, including a HR to Michael Tucker, as he took the loss to John Smoltz in Atlanta. 

After falling to 9-14 the next year he signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers for two seasons. He posted losing records both years pitching in less than 15 games each year. 

In 2000, Clark retired at the age of 32.

Career Stats: In a ten-year career he was 74-71, posting a 4.61 ERA. He struck out 728 batters, walking 367 in 1246 innings pitched, in 219 appearances (197 starts). He had three shut outs & 15 complete games.

Retirement: He retired back near in his hometown in Kilbourne, Illinois. There he owned & operated a hunting club. He also was a children's baseball coach in the area.

Family: Mark & his wife Amy have two children, a son Brandon & a daughter Allyson.


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