San Francisco Giants Diary: Thank You Will Clark, Retire #22


Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think that the number twenty-two on the back of a San Francisco Giants jersey would bother me this much. But it does. I grew up in a family that told stories about Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry. Legends were made during the times when my parents grew up. But where were they now? By nine years old I had already attended two full seasons worth of games. Tickets were cheap, seats were available, and the team was horrible. Had the Giants continued the way they were playing, I might not have developed the passion I have for baseball. But then something happened.

In 1985 the Giants were 62-100, the only Giants team to lose 100 games. But they did draft a kid out of Mississippi State by the name of William Nuschler Clark. The man announced himself to the baseball world by hitting a home run off Nolan Ryan in his very first at bat.

Mar 14, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants coach

Will Clark

looks on against the Colorado Rockies at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

He showed a desire to win that I hadn’t seen before. As an impressionable ten year-old, I grew up around men who “played hard” to win. But this man was able to win without playing hard, and he played hard anyway. He was Hunter Pence, before there was a Hunter Pence!

“The thrill” as he would soon be named, was the type of player all teams wanted. A gritty, determined, lead-by-example player who didn’t choose or necessarily want to be a star, but became one anyway. If you throw 9 players out on a field with his heart, it wouldn’t matter if all 9 guys are normally right fielders, they would figure it out and beat you. There is a right and a wrong way to play baseball. Clark was writing me a guidance course on the sport.

The fact that one man can have that much impact on a fan may seem jaded and it probably is. If the team had continued to go south, I may have lost focus. But they didn’t. Clark kept interest in the team before wins and a ballpark could. He brought promotions and advertising back to the team. How many bay area kids had a “Pacific Sock Exchange” poster in their room? So for my uncle, it was Mays. For my dad, it was McCovey, and for me, it was Clark.

Through the years we have seen the number on the such players’ backs as Osvaldo Fernandez and Dustan Mohr. It was worn three different times in 2002. Mike Matheny at least had it somewhat covered by his catcher’s gear while he was on defense and the number had a good seat while Eli Whiteside was Buster Posey‘s backup. But “Clark” above that 22 just seems right.

I understand the Giants only retire numbers of Hall-of-Famers. But as we have seen recently, the Hall of Fame should not be as much of a measuring stick as it once was. As we all know, performance enhancing drugs were starting to become more prevalent during Clark’s prime years. He didn’t have a spike in performance and was consistent his entire career.

Live Feed

MLB Rumors: Braves striking out, Ohtani spurned Giants, Soto-Yankees extension
MLB Rumors: Braves striking out, Ohtani spurned Giants, Soto-Yankees extension /


  • MLB Rumors: Cody Bellinger market takes shape after Jung Hoo Lee dealFanSided
  • Jung Hoo Lee contract details and grade: Giants finally land big fish with KBO starFanSided
  • SF Giants break free agent slump with massive 6-year deal for Korean starAround the Foghorn
  • 5 best free agents available after Shohei Ohtani deal and where they’ll signFanSided
  • SF Giants' quest for Yamamoto is a chance at redemption after losing out on Shohei OhtaniAround the Foghorn
  • What would his numbers look like?  Should we adjust the qualifications for average players during the steroid era to figure out who really was an all-star? He averaged 23 home runs, 99 runs batted in, and a .303 average during his career. He was also an All-Star six times, representing the Giants all but one of those times. For all the talk about Jeff Kent deserving the honor, Clark actually made one more all-star appearance.

    It’s time to put this thing to bed. When it was out of sight, it was out of mind. But with veteran starter Jake Peavy wearing it, it is back in my face and I don’t want it.

    To some it may be trivial, to others it may seem childish. But when your first smells growing up where of the steam coming from the hot dog-cart behind the bleachers at Candlestick. When you consider Hank Greenwald, Ron Fairly, Gary Park, Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper, and Jon Miller part of your family. And when there is one player who kept you going back to see them on those cold and windy school nights, when homework was finished on the San Mateo Bridge. There is one more memory I want to keep and that is Will Clark #22.