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.

He began in in 1989 pitching in the New York Penn League. The following season, he went 14-9 with a 2.44 ERA at A ball Savannah. 

MLB: Clark got a September 1991 call up & made his MLB debut in relief of a 6-2 loss to San Diego. He would make his first career start in his second game, it was against the New York Mets. The second batter, Howard Johnson hit a two run HR off him. He took a no decision in the 6-2 moss to New York. On September 30th, he earned his first 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.

Cleveland Career: In 1993 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Mark Whiten. He won his first game, beating the Blue Jays, although he gave up five runs. He then struggled & went to the bullpen for a bit. He loss time due to an injury, when he returned, he pitched well going 3-1, 
pitching into the eighth inning or beyond three times that September. On September 25th, he had a complete game win over the Milwaukee Brewers allowing just two runs.

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

In 1995 the Cleveland Indians won the AL Pennant. That season he fell to 9-7with 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. In three plus seasons in Cleveland he was 27-15. 

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, as well as Bobby Jones & Pete Harnisch.

He debuted on April 6th, 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.

In the May West Coast Road trip, he beat the Giants with a complete game win, in a game where the Mets scored 14 runs. Four days later, Clark beat the Dodgers in L.A. On the home stand back at Shea he shut out San Francisco in seven innings for a 4-0 win. He then lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to the Dodgers. On June 12th, he struck out a season high nine batters, in a 3-2 win over Greg Maddox & the Braves.

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 with the most wins (14) innings (212) strike outs (142) starts (32) & best ERA (3.43) on the Mets ’96 staff. 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 were a disappointing 71-91.

1997: Clark got to start the second game of the season, it was at Shea against the San Diego Padres, where he allowed three runs over 6.1 innings earning no decision in the Met loss. 

At the end of April, he won three straight, pitching into the 7th inning each time. On May 21st he pitched eight shut out innings to beat the Florida Marlins 2-1. 

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. Clark threw seven innings of no-hit baseball. In the 8th inning, the effort was ruined when Reggie Jefferson & Nomar Garciapara 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.

Clark was a work horse for the Mets, pitching 142 innings in 23 games, while going 8-7 with a 4.25 ERA into early August. 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 his ten year career, pitching for five different teams, this was his only post season appearance. In the NLDS opener, he gave up four runs, including a HR to Michael Tucker, as he took the loss to John Smoltz & the Atlanta Braves. 

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. Clark retired in 2000 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 in his hometown of Bath, Illinois with his wife & two children. There he owned & operated a hunting club.


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