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|Clark impresses at Nicholls|
Former Major League Baseball player Will Clark had some great words of wisdom while speaking at the Nicholls State fifth annual First Pitch Banquet Friday in Thibodaux.
But it was the stories he told while playing with the San Francisco Giants that was most entertaining.
Clark was the MVP of the 1989 National League Championship Series and recorded more than 2,000 career hits and 1,200 career RBI. He spent 14 years in the major leagues and spent the majority of his years with the San Francisco Giants. Clark was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 after his successful career at Mississippi State.
Clark, a native of New Orleans who played baseball and basketball at Jesuit High, gave insight of what it was like to be in the locker room with the Giants, and told stories about former major leaguers Matt Williams and Kevin Mitchell.
Clark said Williams was a big strong guy and very hot-tempered. The Giants had a tunnel that led to the dugout with three light bulbs in it. After Williams would strike out, he would go and break the light bulbs. Clark came up with the idea to buy an inflatable Bozo the clown and put it in the tunnel for Williams to hit when he struck out. Williams struck out and struck the Bozo the clown toy. It hit the ground and popped back up to hit Mitchell and knocked him down. The players in the dugout erupted in laughter and Williams told Clark he was going to kill him. Later, as the game was going on, Williams was chasing Clark down the first base line.
When asked by someone in attendance at the banquet if Clark read Greg Maddux lips back in the 1989 playoffs, Clark responded with "yes."
Clark told the story of how the bases were loaded and Maddux was talking with one of his coaches when he read the All-Star's lips saying, "fastball in." Clark turned to Mitchell, who was on deck and asked, "Did he say fastball in?" Mitchell said yes and asked what Clark was going to do. Clark said he told him he was going to look for a fastball in. Clark then delivered a grand slam that propelled his team to victory.
"That's why pitchers hold their gloves over their mouths when they talk on the mound now," Clark said. "I wanted to keep that quiet, but Mitchell told everyone."
Clark delivered several messages on communicating as teammates, staying away from drugs and steroids, keeping your grades up, battling when you're pushed back into a corner and to not be afraid to fail.
"You were a student-athlete and student came first," Clark said. "You had to make your grades, stay eligible and then you could run out on the field. That's what I try to tell these guys, because there are only so many professional baseball players and not everybody can be a pro."
The Colonels raised nearly $10,000 in support of their program thanks to ticket sales and a highly successful silent auction. Not only did Clark speak, but head coach Seth Thibodeaux and senior Scott Moseley spoke to the crowd as well.
"This was a great night for us as a program, for the university and for the city of Thibodaux," Thibodeaux said. "Anytime you can get a guy of Will Clark's stature to speak to your program, it's naturally going to build a lot of buzz. I can't thank him enough for coming tonight."
Thibodeaux was able to bring Clark in after he met him last November and the two started chatting about baseball. Thibodeaux asked Clark if he could come speak to the team, and Clark took up his offer.
"We hit it off right from the get-go," Clark said. "He's a great person and he seems like a great motivator and great coach. Hopefully, I will get to see his ball club play a little bit. They should have a pretty good team this year."
"It was great for our guys to hear directly from a player of his caliber what it takes to achieve their goals, whatever they are," Thibodeaux said. "It was great for them to hear that even a player of that caliber understands how important it is to be successful in the classroom. Everyone seemed to have a great time celebrating the program and the university tonight."
The Colonels open the 2011 baseball season on Friday Feb. 18 when the Colonels head to Ruston, La. to take on Louisiana Tech, Grambling and Southern Illinois at the 2011 Louisiana Tech Classic.
Jake Martin is Sports Editor of the Nicholls Worth and a summer intern for the Sentinel.
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