I’ve never been to a Fan Fest, as I retired from autograph hunting at 11. My career as an autograph seeker, however, was very productive, as ballplayers tend to make a beeline towards the little baseball fan girl leaning over the rails with a program and pen in hand. Somewhere in a plastic crate are stacks of programs signed by David Kingman, Chris Speier, Bobby Bonds, Juan Marichal, Ron Bryant, Ed Goodson, John Montefusco and other Giants — known and obscure. I also have autographs from members of the NY Mets and Cincinnati Reds.
And then there is the Jack Clark ball, one of the only autographs from my post-11 year old baseball fan life.
You see, my sister went off to college when Jack Clark was still that young, mono-browed outfielder with enormous talent, unlimited potential and the attention span of Fred Lewis. My childhood friend and I would hear the pre or post game shows where Clark was a guest, and we we hear chewing gum, mumbling and semi-decipherable bits of sentences in So Cal ebonics. This led my friend and I to write letters from Jack Clark to my sister under the guise that Clark was interested in writing to a female penpal. Since my sister knew that we knew Jack Clark, she never questioned the authenticity of the letters that would describe his day at the ballpark, his fetish for leather glove string, his dream of owning a low rider Pinto, his fear of tweezers and how we got lost everyday while driving to Candlestick. We continued to send these letters out over the course of 2 years, and she would call to read us the latest Jack letter.
Anywho, my sister came home from college one day and invited my childhood friend and I to eat pizza. During dinner, my sister pulled out a signed baseball that read, “To Lisa, My favorite penpal. God bless, Jack Clark”. It was the real deal, of course, obtained through another SF Giant who found about the letters and got the ball signed by Jack.
This made me love baseball just a little bit more. As fans who love the game, we want to imagine that our baseball heroes are as vulnerable and human as we are. Jack Clark may not have been the greatest of SF Giants, and his temperament might be the reason why lesser stars have become more endearing characters in SF Giants lore. As a fan, though, I just thought that he was a bit more cooler than I had originally imagined, and he never stopped being that nice guy.
Welcome back, baseball!
The SF Giants will be broadcasting this year’s Fan Fest at SFGiants.com.
To stay relevant in the news, Curt Schilling says that the Bo Sox encouraged him to use PEDs.