This is my second article in my series of articles featuring professional athletes that I have met in my life. My first article was about my meeting with Boston Red Sox great Mo Vaughn. This is my story in meeting Will Clark.
It was 1999 and I was in 8th grade on a spring break trip down to Florida to see my grandparents. The one thing my grandfather wanted to do was take me out to the ballpark in Jupiter to watch some Cardinals and Orioles spring training games. I was extremely excited as I had never been to spring training before and I was able to see Major League baseball players get ready for the season.
I knew that spring training would be a prime period to try and get autographs from the ballplayers as that is something that I loved to do at games, but had never been successful. My grandfather got me a baseball and gave me a tip that Will Clark would be signing autographs before the game so we had to get there early. Little did I know exactly how right he was.
We arrived at the ballpark as early as we could and found our seats along the first base line. The players were throwing packs of baseball cards into the crowd and everyone was jumping around trying to get as many packs as they could of the 1999 Pacific packs flying into the stands. I was able to grab a few and everyone went nuts when they saw me open a single pack and pull a JD Drew rookie card. He played for the Cardinals and was a hot prospect at the time so everyone was saying “That kid just pulled a JD Drew rookie!”
As I was checking out my new cardboard gold, I saw a player starting to sign autographs over in the left field corner and moving all the way around towards me. I saw the number on the back of the jersey and knew exactly who that was signing every autograph requested of him in the ballpark. It was Will Clark.
I waited patiently as he came around towards the first base dugout and I asked him nicely for an autograph while holding my ball and pen out. He was smiling and laughing the whole time having conversations with just about everyone who was talking to him while signing all the autographs in the world. I looked him in the eye and said thanks and he made sure to say you’re welcome back as he continued signing all the way to the right field corner.
This may not have been a long encounter with Will Clark, but this story had to be shared. This is the only instance at a sports game where I saw someone of Will Clark’s stature sign every single autograph requested of him by going all the way around the park. It was quite simply the nicest thing I have ever seen and you could tell that Will Clark truly cared for his fans and respected the game and the position he was given. His generosity will be something that I will remember forever and have remembered long after his playing days ended. Whenever someone brings up Will Clark, everyone will remember his great hitting, but I will remember the generosity and respect he gave to those fans out there who supported him.