#22- First Baseman Tony Clark
When we think about Tony Clark we think about a career upset by horrible timing. Clark was a home grown talent...the second overall pick of the 1990 draft. Five years later he had made his way to the big club, and the bottom finally fell out on a team that had failed to rebuild itself, mostly failed to develop young talent, and had a new owner and would have a new manager for the first time in a generation. The next year Randy Smith became the GM...and three seasons after that the team moved to the new and spacious Comerica Park. It is really too bad that those late 1990's Tigers teams were so bad. I think we can make the argument now that ownership was more focused on getting a new Stadium constructed over the product on the field.
It seemed that those teams had a little bit of talent. Tony Clark, Travis Fryman, Bobby Higginson...the '96 squad still had Cecil Fielder. However the achilles heel of those teams was starting pitching. The Tigers had no starting pitching and how many years did we wait for Justin Thompson to pan out? In the end the only real consistent performer of the late 1990's was Clark.
He hit 30 home runs in three straight seasons. Oddly enough his only All Star selection came in the second season in Comerica Park. He had a great stick for old Tiger Stadium and he was an above average defender at first. It is really too bad that the powers that be were never able to build a team around him. Given the times we can say that ownership was busy with other things...IE the Detroit Red Wings winning back to back Stanley Cups...and that is the biggest argument against having one owner own multiple franchises in one city.
I am not saying Clark was the be all end all...but for those late 90's teams he was one of the only reasons to buy a ticket. I know that cause on warm summer nights my friends and I would go to old Tiger Stadium just to see him (and yell at Bobby Higginson who had security throw us out of the bleachers twice).
My 25 Favorite Detroit Tigers