Before Jake Peavy changed his number, before Dan Uggla joined the team for a short stint, and before Jason Schmidt struck out sixteen batters in a game, the number 22 was worn by one of the greatest players to put on the San Francisco Giants jersey, Will Clark.
Clark’s eight-year tenure with San Francisco was filled with remarkable moments, milestones and memories, and it all began with his first major league at-bat. Debuting at the age 22 and wearing the number 22, he homered off the future Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan.
Clark went on to start five consecutive All-Star games with the Giants through the years of 1988-92. In ’88, he was the first Giant since Bobby Murcer to have 90 RBI’s in consecutive seasons. Thanks to Clark, he is also the reason that all pitchers and catchers cover their mouth with a glove when discussing things on the mound.
In Game 1 of the 1989 National League Championship Series, Clark was watching the discussion between Greg Maddux and Joe Girardi from the on-deck circle. As he was watching, he read the lips of Greg Maddux who said “fastball high, inside”.
To little surprise, the first pitch to Clark was a fastball high and inside. He read the pitch just as well as Maddux’s lips and drove the ball deep to right field, which literally left the ball park and went into the street outside the stadium. It was a grand slam and his second homer of the game.
Later on in the series in Game 5, Clark was in a battle at the plate with Chicago Cubs closer Mitch Williams who was trying to hold the game at a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning. After several minutes of fighting off pitches and staying alive, Clark hit it right back up the middle for a single to break the tie and ultimately send the Giants to the World Series for the first time in 27 years. He went on to win the NLCS MVP, batting .650 with two home runs in the series.
Clark’s career with San Francisco would be highlighted with five All-Star appearances, two Silver Slugger awards, a NL RBI Champion, and a Golden Glove winner. In 2007, he was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, but is that enough to recognize everything “The Thrill” has done for the Giants organization? With all the history behind Clark, it brings up the question should all that history be preserved behind his number?